March 4, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Poll indicates majority of Delaware voters back gay marriage
Melanie George Smith, Delaware, gay news, Washington Blade

State Rep. Melanie George Smith (D-Bear) sponsored Delaware’s civil unions bill in the state House of Representatives. (Photo courtesy of Delaware House Majority Caucus.)

A new poll released on Monday shows the majority of Delaware voters support marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Fifty-four percent of the 600 registered voters the Global Strategy Group surveyed between Feb. 12-14 said they support nuptials for gays and lesbians, compared to 37 percent of respondents who opposed them.

Sixty percent of those who live in New Castle County, which includes Wilmington, back same-sex marriage.

The poll, which has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent, also found 61 percent of Independents and 65 percent of Democrats support the issue. And 75 percent of Republicans said same-sex marriage in Delaware would not negatively impact their lives.

“This poll is the latest indication that a decisive majority of voters in Delaware believe in treating all loving couples and their families equally under the law,” Mark Purpura, president of the Equality Delaware Foundation, said.

Equality Delaware, which commissioned the poll, released its findings against the backdrop of the anticipated introduction of a bill later this year that would extend marriage to same-sex couples in the First State.

Cathy Rossi, a spokesperson for Gov. Jack Markell who supports nuptials for gays and lesbians, told the Washington Blade over the weekend she expects lawmakers will debate a same-sex marriage bill during the current legislative session that ends on June 30. Legislators will reconvene on March 12, but neither she nor Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman provided a specific timeline as to when a bill would be formally introduced.

The poll also coincides with the brief onto which Attorney General Beau Biden signed last week that urges the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down California’s Proposition 8 that banned same-sex marriage in the Golden State.

“Should Delaware recognize same-sex marriage, that judgment should be respected by the federal government and other states, and so he [Markell] supports efforts to ensure that can happen,” Rossi told the Blade. “The governor agrees that the Supreme Court should strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and invalidate California Proposition 8 as neither is in keeping with the Constitution’s promise of equal dignity and citizenship for all.”

Delaware is among the handful of states that allow gays and lesbians to enter civil unions.

Neighboring Maryland and eight other states and D.C. permit same-sex marriage. Lawmakers in Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey and Rhode Island are poised to consider the issue in the coming days and weeks.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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