Update: The House voted 23-18 in favor of the bill. Story here →
The measure, introduced less than two weeks ago, and a little more than a year after Delaware first began recognizing same-sex civil unions, was approved by the House Administration Committee on a 4-1 vote last Wednesday.
Authors of the bill admitted that, from a state perspective, the bill offers little if any new legal benefits to same-sex couples in civil unions. But they said couples in same-sex relationships deserve the same dignity and respect afforded to married couples.
“Marriage is obviously a different status that provides a level of dignity that civil unions does not provide,” said Mark Purpura of Equality Delaware, a statewide advocacy group that drafted the legislation.
Under the proposal, no new civil unions would be performed after July 1, and couples in civil unions could convert to marriages before July 2014 by applying for a marriage license. On July 1, 2014, all remaining civil unions not subject to dissolution, annulment or legal separation would automatically convert to marriages.
Democratic Gov. Jack Markell has promised to sign the bill if it passes the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.