Equality Delaware begins push for same-sex marriage

By Tom Lehman 12:13am, January 31, 2013 - Updated 9:46am, January 31, 2013
Interviews with Equality Delaware's Mark Purpura, State Senator Bryan Townsend (D-Varlano) and U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del)
Equality Delaware kicks off a new campaign to promote marriage equality during a town hall meeting Wednesday night.

The meeting, held at First & Central Presbyterian Church in Wilmington and attended by more than 100 people, is part of the group's push for same-sex marriage to be recognized in Delaware during 2013.

Although Gov. Markell signed the civil union bill in 2011, Equality Delaware supporters believe that the General Assembly should vote in favor of same-sex marriage. Some Equality Delaware supporters argue that since other states have recognized same-sex marriage and President Obama has publicly supported marriage equality, that Delaware should recognize it too.

"I think that Delawareans are ready for this, the country is ready for it," says Mark Purpura, president of the Equality Delaware foundation.

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Purpura says he's actively trying to have marriage equality legislation drafted in an attempt to have state legislators vote on the issue this year.

"I think that it would really be a step for equality for the whole state, and not just for same-sex couples," he says.

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If marriage equality legislation does reach lawmakers, state Senator Bryan Townsend (D-Newark/Bear) says he would be among those who will vote in favor of it.

"I think that was a big step in terms of showing the move toward equality, but I think this gets us all the way there," he says.

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Townsend acknowledges that there will be opposition to marriage equality legislation but believes that lawmakers should vote to recognize same-sex marriages.

"Yes, we want to try and listen to their opinions but I think at the end of the day--again, equality is hard to forge sometimes--so I think we need to get there even if it is just by a majority, and in time hopefully people, everyone will be more accepting," he says.

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WDEL has reached out to the Delaware Family Policy Council for comment.

U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) also attended the meeting and says he hopes to see same-sex marriage enacted in Delaware and at the federal level.

He says that although the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Defense of Marriage Act this year, he thinks it's likely it will be ruled unconstitutional.

Purpura says that while the Equality Delaware is carefully monitoring the DOMA case, it's not yet certain how the ruling will affect marriage equality efforts in Delaware.

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