Delaware Passes Non-Discrimination Bill

Timothy Kincaid

June 25th, 2009

Delaware Online:

Gays and lesbians in Delaware will have legal protection from discrimination under a bill that passed the General Assembly late Wednesday night, more than a decade after supporters started fighting for it.

The House chamber erupted in applause, cheers and hugs when representatives passed the measure shortly after 8:30 p.m. An hour earlier, the Senate — where previous versions of the legislation always were killed — passed the same bill after a three-hour debate.

The bill now goes to Gov. Jack Markell for his signature. Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, who helped push the bill through the House, said Markell has expressed support for it.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is now banned in housing, employment, public works contracting, public accommodations and insurance. The bill passed both houses by large margins with strong bi-partisan support.

Remember when this would have been national front page news? It is still a very important step and good news for Delaware citizens. And we still have many states in which blatant discrimination against gay persons is completely legal.

But it is a measure of how far we have come that these benefits seem ordinary rather than astonishing.

AJD

June 25th, 2009

You misspelled “Delaware” twice.

L. Junius Brutus

June 25th, 2009

The majority of those opposed to this bill were Democrats. As were its most vocal and hateful opponents:

AGAINST:

Colin Bonini, R-Dover South

Nancy Cook, D-Kenton

Anthony DeLuca, D-Varlano

Gary Simpson, R-Milford

Robert Venables, D-Laurel

“Venables several times said he did not think discrimination based on sexual orientation even existed. ”

Wow, I never knew, Mr. Venables.

Timothy Kincaid

June 25th, 2009

AJD,

thanks for making me “eware” of that error. :)

It’s fixed.

scotte

June 25th, 2009

I wonder if Delaware is in that same weird place as Rhode Island where the large number of Catholics is taken by the legislature as a signal to obey the Catholic hierarchy in spite of the overwhelming views of their constituents? There are similar (if not as obvious as Rhode Island) problems in Maryland.
It may take a generation of politicians dying or retiring to change this unless the politicians start getting serious push back for their positions.

AJD

June 25th, 2009

You’r wlcome!

cd

June 25th, 2009

The backstory here is that state Senate President pro tempore Thurman Adams died on Tuesday, age 80. One week after getting admitted to the hospital.

Adams singlehandedly held up a pile of gay rights and other progressive social legislation.

That state Senate committee seems to have voted to send that bill to the floor as soon as it was clear he wouldn’t be around to obstruct it.

There will be more good news out of Delaware soon as they reform their social laws. The laws on the books supposedly look like those of a state in the Deep South, not a Midatlantic Democratic state.

cd

June 25th, 2009

The bill achieved majority in the state Senate (21 members, 2 absent) on 11 Democratic votes.

There’s a better argument to be made for Democratic weakness on gay rights in the state House (19 Democratic votes, 41 members, 1 absent Democrat).

State Senate seats in Delaware were gerrymandered in 2002 to sustain the existing Democratic majority. Likewise, state House districts were gerrymandered to sustain the Republican majority at the time. So a fair number of Democratic state House Reps are freshmen and representing only slightly Democratic leaning districts or worse. And they’re probably averse to voting for what they perceive to be risky legislation. Though Democratic trend in the state seems to be strong.

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