Coming Out

Delaware state lawmaker comes out as gay during marriage equality hearing

Karen Peterson-200

Staff Reports

DOVER, Del. — A Delaware state Senator came out as gay on Tuesday while giving an impassioned speech on the Senate floor moments before the chamber voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

Karen Peterson

Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Stanton, Del.) said she has been in a committed relationship with her partner Vicki for 24 years.

The speech marked the first time that Peterson has publicly disclosed that she in in a long-term relationship with another woman.

“My partner Vicki and I have been together for 24 years,” she said. “Last year, we entered into a civil union.”

“If my happiness somehow demeans or diminishes your marriage, you need to work on your marriage,” said Peterson, a remark that caused much laughter among observers in the chamber.

“We don’t need to be fixed. We’re not broken.

“No one chose to be gay. We are what God made us. We’re not seeking to redefine marriage, but to expand it, just as Loving vs. Virginia did.”

Peterson’s remarks came just before a divided state Senate voted Tuesday to make Delaware the 11th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage, after hearing hours of testimony from supporters and opponents.

Less than an hour after the Senate’s 12-9 vote, Democratic Gov. Jack Markell signed the measure into law.

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