DE Passes Gay Anti-Discrimination Bill 11 Years in the Making
Lawmakers in Delaware Wednesday night passed a bill barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – that was eleven years in the making.
The bill was first proposed by Republican Representative Bill Oberle in 1998, and had managed to pass the House several times, but had never made it through the Senate until this year. The measure will protect gay people from discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and insurance.
Steve Elkins is executive director of the gay rights group CAMP Rehobeth, which has lobbied for the bill for all eleven years. He says Delaware’s gay community is thrilled with the vote.
Elkins: “We could never quite figure out what the fear was, because we weren’t asking for special rights, as we all know, we were asking for equal rights. But people are ecstatic. We came out of legislative hall in Dover, and believe it or not, there was a rainbow.”
Elkins says he thinks lawmakers will be able to add protections for transgender people to the law next session.
Elkins: “We were not able to get gender identity in this particular bill. As much as all of us wanted it, they weren’t willing to change the bill, it had been presented, and we decided that it’s best to go ahead and take this as an incremental step knowing that we’re going to work really hard to get gender identity and gender expression.”
Elkins says he expects Governor Jack Markell to sign the bill in the near future.