WILMINGTON, Del.—Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden on Saturday said support for marriage rights for same-sex couples continues to grow ahead of the expected introduction of a bill that would allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot in his state.
“I know that momentum is on our side on this,” he told the Washington Blade.
Biden, who had been scheduled to attend an Equality Delaware fundraiser in Wilmington on Friday but was unable because he was on duty with the Delaware Army National Guard, spoke with the Blade less than a week after the organization released a video in which he speaks in support of nuptials for gays and lesbians.
Equality Delaware on March 4 released a poll that shows 54 percent of the state’s voters back marriage rights for same-sex couples.
“I wanted to do whatever I could to lend a voice to an important message on marriage equality,” he said. “I’m happy to work with [Equality Delaware President] Lisa [Goodman] and the folks here in Delaware who are fighting the fight that is a very important one.”
Biden did not provide a specific timeline as to when a same-sex marriage bill would be introduced in the General Assembly.
The legislative session ends on June 30, but he said one of the challenges remains ensuring there is enough time for lawmakers to debate the measure with a gun control bill and other proposals on the table.
“One of the issues is how busy the General Assembly is,” Biden said. “That’s why I’m anxious to make sure that something is put in the General Assembly sooner than later so we don’t run up against the clock.”
He also remains optimistic the measure will gain Republican support once it is formally introduced.
“I’m hopeful that Democrats and Republicans recognize this is a fundamental civil rights issue and everyone should have the same rights under the law,” Biden said. “Right now it’s just not the case. Something needs to be fixed, so I’m hopeful that there will be Republicans on board.”
Biden is among the 14 state attorneys general who filed two amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court that argue California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act are unconstitutional. The justices will hear oral arguments in both cases on March 26-27 respectively.
“I’m confident that David Boies and Ted Olson, two of the great advocates of our era, will be forceful advocates for our position before the Supreme Court,” Biden said. “I’m hopeful the Supreme Court will come down on our side on this.”
Delaware is among the handful of states that currently allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. Neighboring Maryland and eight other states and D.C. have extended marriage rights to gays and lesbians.
A Rhode Island Senate committee on March 21 will hold a hearing on a bill that would allow same-sex marriage in the Ocean State. Lawmakers in Illinois and other states are expected to debate the issue in the coming days and weeks.
Biden also applauded his father, Vice President Biden, for speaking in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples during a pre-taped interview with David Gregory of NBC’s “Meet the Press” in May 2012.
“I was incredibly proud of my father for speaking from his heart, but also speaking from his head,” Biden said, noting he watched it with his parents after they attended Mass. “He knew from both places that this is about love and to not stand in the way of the ability for anybody to love and to be in a committed relationship and marriage with whomever they choose. And so it’s pretty straight forward and simple for my dad I think. That’s why he answered the question so much from the heart.”
Biden said he feels momentum in support of the issue has only grown since his father and President Obama spoke publicly in support of it. He noted U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and others are “coming along and joining this civil rights fight it seems on a daily basis.”
“I feel the momentum,” Biden said. “I’m hopeful that that will carry through with the General Assembly enacting this important law.”