June 27, 2013 at 11:28 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Delaware marriage law goes into effect July 1

Dover, Delaware, Legislative House, Gay News, Washington Blade

The Delaware Capitol Building in Dover, Del. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

A Delaware lawmaker who came out during a debate over her state’s same-sex marriage bill earlier this year and her partner will be the first couple to take advantage of the gay nuptials law that takes effect on Monday.

State Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Stanton) and her partner, Vikki Bandy, will convert their civil union into a marriage at the New Castle County Clerk of the Peace’s office in Wilmington on Monday morning.

“Vikki and I are excited and honored to be the first couple to convert our civil union to a marriage in Delaware,” Peterson told the Washington Blade. “We have been together for almost 25 years, and I never thought we would live to see the day when we could be married in our home state.”

Chris Beagle, a realtor who co-owns an event planning company with his partner of more than 23 years, Eric Engelhart, will be the first same-sex couple in Sussex County to convert their civil union into a marriage.

Beagle told the Blade last week that he and Engelhart will have a “very simple, very brief ceremony” at CAMP Rehoboth in Rehoboth Beach at 10 a.m. on Monday.

“I never expected to be afforded this type of honor or distinction,” Beagle said. “We are incredibly humbled, honored and grateful.”

The Sussex County Clerk of the Peace in Georgetown will also begin to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples at 8 a.m. on July 1, with doors opening at 7 a.m. The Kent County Clerk of the Peace in Dover will open at 8 a.m.

Delaware on Monday will join nine other states and D.C. that allow same-sex marriage.

Gays and lesbians in Minnesota and Rhode Island will be able to tie the knot on August 1.

Joseph Daigle, II, and Daniel Coke on Monday will become the first same-sex couple who had not previously entered into a civil union to tie the knot in Delaware. A reception and what Goodman described as a “community celebration” will take place at the Columbus Inn in Wilmington after the men exchange vows at the Gibraltar Mansion.

No other same-sex weddings will take place in Delaware on July 1 because the state did not waive the 24-hour waiting period for any other gay or lesbian couples.

Any Delaware civil union that has not been converted into a marriage as of July 1, 2014, will automatically become a marriage.

“July 1 will be a joyous day for committed same-sex couples in Delaware,” Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman said.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael //

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