Same-sex marriage legislation unveiled in Wilm.

By Amy Cherry, Tom Lehman 6:46pm, April 11, 2013 - Updated 6:56pm, April 11, 2013
VIDEO: Gov. Jack Markell speaks at introduction of HB 75 and Q&A with same-sex marriage supporters
A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Delaware is unveiled in Wilmington Thursday afternoon.

Governor Markell, Attorney General Beau Biden, and lawmakers gathered on Freedom Plaza to take the wraps off the marriage equality legislation in front of a crowd of about 200 supporters of the legislation.

Markell reiterated a promise he made on Tuesday, when he said he would sign the bill if it's passed.

House Bill 75 would allow same-sex couples to marry and would make Delaware the 11th state to exact such legislation if passed.

Under the proposed legislation, procedures for the conversion of existing civil unions would be established. All same-sex civil unions would also be converted to marriages with one year.

The bill is scheduled to be heard by committee next Wednesday and if passed by the House and Senate, it will go into effect July 1.

Supporters excited by bill's introduction

Milton resident Ron Tipton says that if the bill is passed, it would be a "dream come true" and he his partner.

"Never in my life did I think I'd be able to marry my partner, it'll be 49 years this July," Tipton says.

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Chris Beagle, a resident of Rehoboth Beach who also serves on Equality Delaware's board of directors, says Thursday's ceremony was emotional, as the proposed legislation would allow him to marry his partner; both are currently in a civil union.

"We know that until we have full equality--full marriage equality--that we're not totally equal," Beagle says.

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Joe Daigle, a recent UD alumnus who calls the proposed legislation "monumental," and would allow him to marry his partner, who he met while attending college.

"We're recently engaged as well, so to think that we are part of the movement and we're part of the people who are actually affected by these laws and currently excluded," Daigle says.

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Lisa Goodman with Equality Delaware says it's a big first step in the process toward making Delaware the eleventh state to legalize same-sex marriage.

"It's a big step forward for Delaware. We've been working very hard to build grassroot support for this effort and we have tremendous support, a tremendous number of volunteers and we're very excited that the bill will be introduced and we'll begin the process of working this through Dover," Goodman says.

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Opponents voice concern over bill

The Delaware Family Policy Council didn't protest Thursday's same-sex marriage bill unveiling.

But representatives from the volunteer organization will be lobbying in full force at Legislative Hall in the coming weeks.

President Nicole Theis tells WDEL she doesn't think this will be an uphill battle for supporters of traditional marriage.

"What we're finding, overwhelmingly, is when people understand what's really happening and the implications of a bill this huge and this foundational on how we look at marriage for all of society, they're supportive of not redefining it because of its importance to children," says Theis.

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She says look for a strong presence from the Delaware Family Policy Council in the coming weeks.

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