Delaware Gov. Jack Markell on Tuesday alluded to the looming same-sex marriage debate in his state during his inaugural speech.
“We will advance the cause of liberty, equality and dignity in our time,” he said at Central Middle School in Dover. “Our state will be a welcoming place to live, to love and to raise families for all who choose to call Delaware home.”
Markell’s comments come after he suggested to the Huffington Post last August that state lawmakers could debate a measure that would allow gays and lesbians to marry this year. Spokesperson Catherine Rossi reiterated that point to the Washington Blade before the start of the 2013 legislative session on Jan. 8.
“The governor referred in his inaugural address to the civil rights advances Delaware made in his first term,” she said in response to questions about his speech. “He expects that Delaware will build on that progress in his second term. We expect part of that progress to be a marriage equality bill.”
Neighboring Maryland is among the nine states and D.C. that currently allow same-sex marriage.
Lawmakers in New Jersey, Illinois and Rhode Island are expected to debate the issue in the coming weeks.
Markell, who took office in 2009, signed the state’s anti-gay discrimination and civil unions bills into law during his first term. He referenced both during his speech.
“Unwilling to ignore, even in hard economic times, the old and true maxim that ‘justice delayed is justice denied,’ Delaware has also moved in four short years to put an end to legal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and to extend the protections of the law for all committed couples,” he said.