Del. House Approves Same-Sex Marriage Bill - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. House Approves Same-Sex Marriage Bill

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Delaware is closer than ever to legalizing same-sex marriage. The State House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill Tuesday.

The final vote was 23 to 18 - with multiple Democrats voting against it. There was a loud cheer from supporters when the result was read.

Much of the debate on the bill centered around its protections - not for the couples - but for other people.

Some questioned if the bill's section letting clergy members not perform weddings if they don't want to was enough.

"The protections in this bill are not adequate in my professional opinion," said Jordan Lorence, a lawyer called as a witness by House Republicans. "The issues go far beyond ordering a pastor, priest or rabbi to perform a ceremony."

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Melanie George-Smith, D-Bear, says it does protect free speech.

"Nobody will be punished for saying what they believe in. That was very clearly put in this bill on the free speech issue."

People in Dover had mixed feelings about expanding the definition of marriage in Delaware.

"I don't feel it's anyone's business but the parties involved," Vincent Gerecitano, of Dover, said. "I think they were made just the same as everyone else.

"I just don't understand the whole gay thing," said Ken Abraham, also of Dover. "It seems unnatural. But as retired attorney, I'd have to say marriage should be legalized.

As the debate in the house chamber continued, it turned to support and opposition of the entire goal of the bill.

"The majority of my constituents and the people who contact me feel very strongly to protect the current definition of marriage as between one man and one woman," said Rep. Ruth Briggs-King, R-Georgetown.

"I'm asking my colleagues today to do the right thing by Delawareans and give them the right to marry and have the equal respect and dignity of that marriage," Rep. George-Smith said.

This bill is on a legislative fast track. It heads to the state Senate next. Gov. Jack Markell has pledged to sign it if the senate passes it.

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