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Delaware same-sex marriage law takes effect

Sen. Karen Peterson, Vikki Bandy converted civil union into marriage; couples apply for marriage licences



Delaware, Karen Peterson, Vikki Bandy, Marriage, DOMA, Gay News, Washington Blade
Delaware, Karen Peterson, Vikki Bandy, Marriage, DOMA, Gay News, Washington Blade

Vikki Bandy and state Sen. Karen Peterson sign their marriage certificates in Wilmington, Del., on July 1. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

WILMINGTON, Del. — A Delaware lawmaker who came out during a debate over her state’s same-sex marriage bill earlier this year and her partner on Monday became the first couple to take advantage of the gay nuptials law.

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

“It’s exciting, both historically and personally,” Peterson told reporters after she and Bandy exchanged vows in a private ceremony. “I never thought in our lifetimes we would be getting married.”

Daniel Cole, Joseph Daigle II, Delaware, Wilmington, Gay Marriage, Washington Blade, Gay News

Daniel Cole and Joseph Daigle, II, of Wilmington, Del., on Monday became the first same-sex couple without a civil union to legally marry in the state. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Rehoboth Beach residents Chris Beagle and Eric Engelhart later on Monday became the first gay couple in Sussex County to convert their civil union into a marriage. Joseph Daigle, II, and Daniel Cole of Wilmington are the first same-sex couple who had not previously entered into a civil union to tie the knot in Delaware.

Attorney General Beau Biden and New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon are among those who spoke at Daigle and Cole’s wedding that took place inside the Marian Cruger Coffin Gardens at the Gibraltar Mansion in Wilmington on Monday evening.

“Today we are witnesses to a historic event for Delaware and for our community and quite frankly our future,” Biden said.

Daigle and Cole spoke with reporters after they exchanged vows.

“This was one of the most exciting moments of my life,” Daigle said. “I am so happy to be married to Dan.”

New Castle County Clerk of the Peace Ken Boulden, who officiated both Peterson and Bandy and Daigle and Cole’s weddings, said 108 same-sex couples in Delaware received marriage licenses on Monday. The state did not waive the 24-hour waiting period for any other gay or lesbian couples on the first day they could legally tie the knot.

Alexander Perez and Brad Poulter of Wilmington, who have been together for eight years, received their marriage license at the New Castle County Clerk of the Peace’s office shortly after Peterson and Bandy exchanged their marriage vows.

The men plan to tie the knot in Wilmington on July 13.

“It’s great to be living in a state that recognizes equality, realizes everyone is equal,” Poulter said.

11 states and D.C. now allow same-sex marriage.

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

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 26 found a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and struck down California’s Proposition 8 that had banned same-sex marriage. Gays and lesbians in the Golden State began to once again exchange vows on June 28 after the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals listed its stay on gay nuptials in response to the justices’ Prop 8 ruling.

“You realize the benefits that you don’t have by not having marriage, or in our case civil unions,” Peterson said, noting Bandy was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer three years ago.

Bandy is now in remission, but Peterson had to pay extra taxes because her now spouse was on her health insurance policy.

“With DOMA gone that will not happen,” Peterson said.

A handful of Westboro Baptist Church members protested outside the New Castle County offices in which the Clerk of the Peace is located before Peterson and Bandy exchanged vows. The more than 100 same-sex marriage supporters who gathered across the street vastly outnumbered them.

“If you don’t want a gay marriage, don’t get one,” Alison Sprong of New Jersey told the Washington Blade as she stood among other same-sex marriage supporters outside the county offices in downtown Wilmington. “Don’t infringe on other peoples’ rights to do so.”

Wilmington resident Alex Koriakin, who plans to marry his partner next year, agreed as he applauded the state for allowing gays and lesbians to tie the knot.

“It’s time,” he said. “It’s great that Delaware can be one of the first states to take advantage of that.”

Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman, who also applied for a marriage license with her spouse, Drew Fennell, on Monday, agreed.

“So many people have worked for so many years to get us to this day,” Goodman told the Blade before she entered the county’s offices to attend Peterson and Bandy’s ceremony. “To actually be standing here about to go in and have the first licenses issued is just an amazing feeling.”



Delmarva Pride to feature drag, dancing, and more this weekend

Easton and Cambridge to host events



A scene from Delmarva Pride. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Delmarva Peninsula will hold its annual Pride celebration this weekend, including drag shows, a festival, and much more. 

The Delmarva Pride Center will put on the annual Pride celebration starting on Friday, June 14, and it will go until Sunday to celebrate queer love and acceptance in Delmarva.  

The weekend kicks off on Friday with a free legal clinic in partnership with FreeState Justice at the Academy Art Museum, 106 South St., Easton, Md. Free legal services including name and gender marker changes, criminal record expungements, and peace and protection orders are just some of the services being offered. For more information visit

Then on Friday night, the third annual Pride Drag Show will be at the Avalon Theatre, 40 E Dover St., in Easton. Bring your cash as four drag queens and host Miranda Bryant put on the fundraising show, where 100% of ticket sales go to the Delmarva Pride Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and performance begins at 7 p.m. For tickets visit

On Saturday there will be the Pride festival from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at  S. Harrison and E. Dover Street, in Easton. This free community festival will include vendors, live performances, and more. 

Saturday night the party gets going as Delmarva Pride will host its 2024 Pride Dance. There will be a DJ and drinks available for purchase. This event is for 18 and up and will include a cash bar for anyone 21 and up. No tickets are required. 

To round out your Pride weekend, on Sunday the Delmarva Pride Brunch will be held at ArtBar 2.0, 420b Race St. in Cambridge, Md. Tickets include food, access to the mimosa bar, and a drag performance. Tickets are available here

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People of Pride: Five Marylanders making a difference in the LGBTQ+ community

Baltimore Pride is this weekend



Jabari Lyles poses for a portrait in East Mount Vernon Place in Baltimore on June 10, 2024. (Photo by Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | One hosts movie nights, karaoke and other events that provide a safe space for LGBTQ people. Another has become a sounding board for customers at his gay bar dealing with pressures of the outside world. And a third beats the pavement to promote political awareness about LGBTQ issues.

These are just some of the things five Baltimoreans the Baltimore Banner is profiling in honor of Baltimore Pride Month are doing in the fight for visibility, support and acceptance of their peers.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Delaware’s Sussex Pride launches free statewide HIV, STI testing

Special program honors National HIV Testing Day on June 27



Each year on June 27, people across the United States are encouraged to get tested for HIV. This year for Delawareans, it’s easier than ever.

Sussex Pride has partnered with STDCheck to offer free HIV and syphilis testing everywhere in Delaware. There are more than 20 locations across the state, making it simple to find a testing center.  

David Mariner, executive director of Sussex Pride, told the Blade, “We are thrilled with this new partnership with STDcheck. The ultimate goal is to empower individuals with knowledge about their HIV status, provide necessary support, and facilitate early intervention to improve health outcomes in our state.”

Finding a testing center, getting tested, and getting results is simple. Start by finding a lab near you using this link ( Then call STDcheck at 800-456-2323 and request a free Sussex Pride HIV and/or syphilis test. Make sure to mention Sussex Pride in the call to get the test for free. Then schedule a time and get tested. 

“If you are HIV positive, the sooner you know, the better,” Mariner added. “Early and sustained treatment can help you live a long and healthy life. It can also help protect others.”

This special program is in honor of National HIV Testing Day, created in 1995 to highlight the lifesaving impact of HIV testing. HIV has historically had a disproportionate effect on the LGBTQ community. According to the CDC, 70% of all new cases of HIV in 2021 were among gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men.

The CDC’s theme for this year’s HIV testing day is “Level up your self-love: check your status.” The theme emphasizes, “valuing yourself, showing yourself compassion and respect, and honoring your health needs with self-love,” and the best way to do that is to test.

For more information on Sussex Pride’s testing program visit and for more information on HIV visit

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