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Archive of Delaware's

LGBTQ History

This page features items from Delaware's march toward equality, followed by the state song, "Our Delaware!"


  • Whereas previous legislation had dealt with "sodomy" penalties and the banning of gay marriage, the May 14, 1996 Domestic Partnerships Act (House Bill 578) was the first bill in Delaware history to positively seek same-gender civil rights. It would have created same-gender domestic partnerships, the only specified rights of which were visitation privileges in health care facilities and prisons. With only one sponsor, the bill was stricken.

  • A Delaware Department of Labor letter demonstrating strong need for sexual orientation antidiscrimination legislation, Feb. 8, 1999:  click here.

  • A listing of public interest groups which supported sexual orientation antidiscrimination House Bill 99, 2001-2004:  click here.

  • The Original Spiritual Leaders' Statement affirming lesbian, gay and bisexual civil rights, 2001-2009:  click here.

  • The first second-parent adoption by a gay family in Delaware occured on June 27, 2001, when Delaware Family Court in New Castle County awarded two boys, ages one and six, to an anonymous male couple.  Chief Judge Vincent J. Poppiti found this in the best interests of the children, who had been born premature and cocaine-addicted, but thrived under the loving care of the men, who had been partnered for 22 years.  Access the court opinion.

  • A Hickman-Brown Public Opinion Research poll finding strong support in Delaware for sexual orientation antidiscrimination legislation, May 9, 2002:  click here.

  • Wilmington Mayor James Baker's endorsement of sexual orientation antidiscrimination House Bill 99, May 15, 2003:  click here.

  • The Governmental Leaders' Statement affirming sexual orientation equality, 2004-2009:  click here.

  • Delaware Treasurer Jack Markell's May 23, 2004 “Delaware Voice” column for the News Journal supporting LGB anti-discrimination bill H.B. 99

  • Delaware Treasurer Markell's June 15, 2007 on-line petition in support of S.B. 141, an LGB anti-discrimination bill

  • Delaware Treasurer Markell's June 20, 2007 testimony before the Senate Insurance and Elections Committee in defense of S.B. 141

  • Delaware Treasurer Markell's March 8, 2008 letter to the editor at the Delaware State News in support of S.B.141 & S.B. 10 (domestic partner benefits for state employees’ partners)

  • The Episcopal Diocese of Delaware passed a resolution in support of Delaware's sexual orientation antidiscrimination House Bill 5, March 27-28, 2009:  click here.

  • Then high school senior Sarah McBride on March 31, 2009, created this Petitionspot online petition supporting sexual orientation antidiscrimination House Bill 5—and asking for an amendment to protect transgender people also.

  • This petition at Care2 Petitionsite, started October 15, 2009, called for legalizing same-gender marriage in Delaware.

  • This petition at Change.org to the Governor and Delaware Legislature, begun early March 2011, called for the passage of S.B. 30, the civil unions bill.

  • A statewide poll of 700 likely Delaware voters found 2-to-1 support for civil unions. See the March 15, 2011 media release.

  • Civil unions bill S.B. 30, introduced and filed on March 22, 2011 (see left clip below); signed on May 11, 2011 (see right clip)

The June 24, 2009 Delaware Senate debate about sexual orientation antidiscrimination Senate Bill 121 included more than three hours of extremely inane and insulting testimony by our opposition.  After all of Sen. Venables' anti-gay amendments were voted down, the bill passed in the Senate and was sent to the House.  Meanwhile, Attorney Deborah Gottschalk, a spectator, decided reluctantly that her 8-year-old son was so tired he should be taken home before the House reconvened.  She said, "We were stopped at the Burger King on Rt. 13 at 8:10 p.m., when my son saw this rainbow [below, click on the photos to enlarge].  We watched it arc across the road and pointing to Legislative Hall as the House was voting down amendments and passing the bill." Another person stepped out of Legislative Hall, saw the rainbow overhead, and also took photos.  Though cloudy, there had been and would be no rain that day.  As someone later noted, "It seems the Lord chose a prominent gay symbol to indicate that those who were using the Bible to bash gay people all afternoon were not speaking for Him.  It's easy to manipulate the Bible but not so easy to manipulate a rainbow."

Rainbow 1
Rainbow 2
Rainbow 3
Rainbow 4
Rainbow 5

After the Delaware Senate had passed it 13 to 6 on April 7, 2011, the Delaware House passed the Civil Union and Equality Act of 2011 by 26 to 15 on April 14, 2011. But before passage, there were no fewer than nine hostile House amendments—which Rep. Melanie George systematically and thoroughly refuted.
Concerning the spontaneous cheering and prolonged standing ovation—with shouts of "Thank you! Thank you!"—when the bill was passed, Speaker of the House Robert Gilligan said, "I have been around here for 39 years and I have never seen anything like it."

Delaware's state song, Our Delaware!
First Verse

Oh the hills of dear New Castle
And the smiling vales between,
When the corn is all in tassel
And the meadowlands are green;

Where the cattle crop the clover
And its breath is in the air,
While the sun is shining over
Our beloved Delaware.

Oh our Delaware!
Our beloved Delaware!
For the sun is shining over
Our beloved Delaware.

Oh our Delaware!
Our beloved Delaware!
Here's the loyal son that pledges
Faith to good old Delaware.
Second Verse

Where the wheat fields break and billow
In the peaceful land of Kent,
Where the toiler seeks his pillow
With the blessings of content;

Where the bloom that tints the peaches
Cheeks of merry maidens share,
And the woodland chorus preaches
A rejoicing Delaware.
Third Verse

Dear old Sussex visions linger
Of the holly and the pine,
Of Henlopen's jeweled finger
Flashing out across the brine;

Of the gardens and the hedges
And the welcome waiting there
For the loyal son that pledges
Faith to good old Delaware.
Fourth Verse

From New Castle's rolling meadows
Through the fair rich fields of Kent
To the Sussex shores hear echoes
Of the pledge we now present;

Liberty and Independence
We will guard with loyal care
And hold fast to freedom's presence
In our home state Delaware.


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