By Baptist Press Staff
DOVER, Del. (BP) — An 11th U.S. state has legalized gay marriage, and a 12th one may not be far behind.
Delaware became the 11th state May 7 to redefine marriage when Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, signed a bill that had passed the state Senate earlier in the day, 12-9. The Delaware House had passed the bill in late April, 23-18. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats. Minnesota could be next.
In signing the bill, Markell said Delaware was recognizing that children with gay parents are a family.
“Delaware should be, is and will be, a welcoming place to live, love and raise a family for all who call our great state home,” he said.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, disagreed with Markell, saying the new law is detrimental to children.
“For the first time, the state of Delaware is saying to its children they do not deserve both a mother and a father, and are backing a law that is designed to intentionally deprive some kids of either a mom or a dad,” Brown said in a statement. “It’s bad enough when families break down through divorce or death, but it’s unconscionable when a state encourages this through policies that deprive children of the love of both a mother and a father. This is a very sad day for Delaware.
“This is not the end of the debate,” Brown added. “We intend to make sure that every citizen in Delaware knows how their policymakers voted on this critical issue. We will hold the politicians accountable for their votes.”
The bill will go into effect July 1.
Five states have legalized gay marriage in the past year, with all of them doing so following President Obama’s public support for marriage redefinition. Obama’s change in position eventually led to dozens of Democrats in the House and Senate supporting gay marriage.
“It, quite simply, changed everything,” Richard Socarides, a former Clinton White House senior adviser, told ABCNews.com. “So much is dramatically different just a year later. It really shows the power of the presidency and the power of a presidential endorsement, especially in the very personal and moving way that this president did it.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told ABC News that Obama’s support for gay marriage “absolutely” has had an effect, but Perkins also noted that 30 states still have constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
“You look at the scoreboard, it’s 30-10,” Perkins said. “We’re clearly far from a tipping point as a nation…. And the fallout from this will become more and more evident. It’s not just about the marriage altar. It’s about fundamentally altering our society.
“I’m not saying all the cultural trends are positive. I’m just saying it’s too early to call the game.”
Minnesota could become the 12th state to legalize gay marriage. The state House passed a gay marriage bill Thursday (May 9), 75-59, sending it to the state Senate. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats, and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, supports it.
Editor’s note: Minnesota officially became the 12th U.S. state to approve same-sex marriage May 14 when Gov. Mark Dayton signed a marriage equality bill into law.