Delaware's Senate and House of Representatives passed a civil-union bill April 7 and April 14 respectively. The Senate vote was 13-6. The House vote was 25-16.
The measure grants same-sex couples the state-level rights, benefits and obligations of marriage, and recognizes same-sex civil unions and marriages from other states, treating them as Delaware civil unions.
"I congratulate everyone who worked so hard to make these rights real and look forward to signing this bill into law," Gov. Jack Markell said April 14. "When it came to this legislation, it was clear that it was about rights, it was about opportunity and it was about time."
Seven other states have similar laws, and five states and Washington, D.C., let same-sex couples marry. Five additional states recognize people married in other states and countries as married.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C. Same-sex marriages from elsewhere are recognized as marriages in Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island and California (if the marriage took place before Proposition 8 passed). Eleven other nations allow same-sex couples to marry -- Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Mexico (where same-sex marriages are allowed only in the capital city but are recognized nationwide).
The states with civil-union laws that grant all marriage rights are California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. The Hawaii and Illinois laws were passed recently and have not come into force. Five other states have gay-union laws that extend some rights of marriage: Colorado, Hawaii (an older law), Maine, Maryland and Wisconsin.