US: Delaware Senate to consider equal marriage bill

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Lawmakers in the US state of Delaware are to take up a bill to legalise equal marriage on Tuesday, which could potentially make the Diamond State the eleventh to allow same-sex marriage.

The Democrat-controlled Senate will vote on the bill, which was passed in the House two weeks ago. The bill is supported by equal marriage supporter Governor Jack Markell, who has said he will sign the bill into law, if it passes in the Senate.

On 24 April, the legislation passed in the General Assembly with 23 votes to 18.

The bill explicitly aims to respect religious freedom, in that no religious organisation would be forced to marry anyone against their beliefs.

The legislation which aims to strike down a ban on equal marriage, which was implemented in 1996, and to allow same-sex couples to marry.

On introducing this bill, Markell said he was hopeful that it would pass given the Democratic control over both the upper and lower chambers of the legislature, but did go on to say ”nothing is sure until it’s done.”

The US state of Rhode Island last Thursday became the tenth state to allow equal marriage, as its Governor signed the bill into law, after it passed a second vote in the House by a very wide margin.

The US Supreme Court recently heard arguments around Proposition 8, the state of California’s ban on equal marriage. During the hearing, the justices questioned the meaning of marriage, and challenged arguments for the ban. 

One day prior, the Supreme Court Justices indicated a possible interest in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as it heard arguments around the issue.

A decision by the Supreme Court is expected in both cases by the end of June.