State laws in Delaware currently oppose gay marriage. However, a bill that would have banned gay marriage in Delaware was defeated in 2009. Currently, there is no legal recognition for civil unions or domestic partnerships but there is also no ban on gay marriage in Delaware.
However, in Delaware, gay and LGBT
rights are lagging behind other states and a large percentage of individuals oppose
gay marriage. In fact discrimination against sexual orientation was not illegal
until 2009. Also there are no laws preventing discrimination based on gender
identity, except for government employees.
It is clear that Delaware will continue to oppose gay marriage as long as they do not provide the most basic rights to those in the LGBT community. In 2001, Delaware code finally made hate crimes against a person based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, a crime. In addition, in 2009 Delaware code began to legally forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation.
This discrimination applied to housing, insurance, employment and other areas. However, that discrimination did not extend to marriage in Delaware. Gay marriage is still not not legally recognized. In addition, there are no laws that prevent hate crimes or discrimination against individuals based on perceived or actual gender identity unless the individual is a government employee.
Executive Order number 8 protects government employers and employees from any act of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Like many other states, government employees enjoy many rights not afforded to the general public.
In general, government employees should not receive special protection simply because they are employed by the government. The general public should be entitled to the same rights and protection, or the government becomes complacent in furthering discrimination. In some cases, special rights afforded to government employees can protect the public.
For instance, firemen can enter a home without a warrant in order to put out a fire. In that case, their special rights protect the public. However, when government employees are entitled to rights and protection, regarding issues of equality, the general public should also be entitled to those rights. However, in Delaware, gay rights for the public may follow after those afforded to government employees.
Until Delaware begins to recognize equal rights for all individuals, there will continue to be a large population that will oppose gay marriage. In Delaware, gay rights must equal those of heterosexual individuals and government employees, before any steps can be taken towards reaching full equality.
By opposing gay marriage, Delaware is itself committing an act of discrimination. In Delaware, gay rights must be recognized for the general public, just as they are recognized for government employees and this includes the right to get married.