“Marriage equality is the law in Delaware and I strongly believe that individuals outside our state borders should be equally free to choose whom to love and whom to spend their lives with,” said Biden in a statement that announced his decision. “More than 1,300 marriages of same-sex couples were legally performed in Utah between Dec. 20, 2013, and Jan. 6, 2014, after couples received marriage licenses by Utah authorities. It is our position that these marriages are and should be recognized as valid under Delaware law.”
Biden made the announcement hours after Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman and Equality Delaware Foundation President Mark Purpura sent him a letter that urged the Democrat “to confirm that same-sex marriages validly solemnized in Utah from Dec. 20, 2013, to Jan. 6, 2014, are recognized as valid marriages for all purposes of Delaware law.”
“The Biden family has been strong supporters of marriage — both in Delaware and nationwide,” Goodman told the Washington Blade after Biden made his announcement. “We are very happy and not surprised that Attorney General Biden would rule that Utah marriages, which we believe are and continue to be valid in the state of Utah, are valid and will be recognized as such in the state of Delaware.”
The U.S. Supreme Court last week blocked any future same-sex marriages from taking place in Utah pending the outcome of an appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby’s Dec. 20 ruling that struck down the state’s gay nuptials ban.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Jan. 8 announced his state would not recognize same-sex marriages performed between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6 pending the outcome of his administration’s appeal of Shelby’s ruling. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder two days later said the federal government will recognize these unions.
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler and his counterparts in Maine and Washington subsequently announced their states will follow suit. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray on Monday said the nation’s capital should also recognize same-sex marriages performed in Utah.
Delaware’s same-sex marriage law took effect last July. It is now among the 18 states and D.C. in which gays and lesbians can legally marry.
“We hope that other attorneys general nationwide will follow Attorney General Biden’s lead and recognize these Utah marriages as valid in their states as well,” Goodman told the Blade.
Biden is among those who attended a gay Wilmington couple’s wedding that took place on the first day same-sex couples could legally tie the knot in the state.
“Today we are witnesses to a historic event for Delaware and for our community and quite frankly our future,” said Biden before Joseph Daigle, II, and Daniel Cole exchanged vows at the Gibraltar Mansion in Wilmington.