(CNN) – Delaware became the eleventh state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage Tuesday after the State Senate approved the measure and the state's governor signed it into law.
Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, signed the bill following a 12-9 vote in the State Senate passing the measure. The State House approved the bill in April.
While the state had an existing civil unions law, the new measure allows gay and lesbian couples to legally marry. Rhode Island, Iowa, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Washington and the District of Columbia all allow same-sex marriage.
"Today, we wrote a new chapter in our history and proved, once again, justice and equality continue to move forward in Delaware," Markell wrote in a statement following the bill's signing.
His approval was echoed by Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden.
"This is a historic day for Delaware," Attorney General Biden wrote. "Because of today's vote, all Delawareans will be equal under the law and free to choose whom to love and whom to spend their lives with."
In March, a divided United States Supreme Court heard arguments over the legality of two marriage laws – the federal Defense of Marriage act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage.
The nine justices hinted at disparate views on the hot-button issue, though it was far from clear how they will rule. A decision is expected in June.
Opponents of same-sex marriage include some religious and socially conservative groups. Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, wrote the new Delaware law "redefines marriage for everyone" in the state.
"Every marriage will now be genderless," Brown continued in a statement. "That means that anyone who cannot accept this radical and flawed change to marriage is going to be subjected to punishment."
But gay rights activists hailed the law's passage, saying it represents momentum for supporters of marriage equality laws across the nation.
"As America waits for rulings from the Supreme Court on two historic marriage cases, Delaware today took decisive action and guaranteed equality for the thousands of gay and lesbian couples of that great state," said Chad Griffin, the president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. "Thanks to principled impatience from state leaders in Dover, the momentum for LGBT equality continues unabated."
CNN's Sara Fischer and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report
All this federalism is cute, but like almost all civil rights matters in our history, SSM will probably have to adjudicated by the Supreme Court. Having gay marriage legal in Delaware but not in Texas is not going to fly for very long.
The dominoes are falling and the republicans are getting scared
Looking at the map – same sex marriage approvals are moving down the east coast. Will Virginia or W. Virginia be next? How about NC or SC..... any takers?
Another state joins the 21st century. Well done, Delaware. Very well done.
Yet another state is choosing to join the 21st century—good for them!
I have a letter from a Delaware school district telling a child, who reported that he and his friends were being threatened and assaulted due to their race, that he can not go to some of his classes and he can only use the nurse's restroom. No one in the state or Fed govt would help this child get an equal education. I saved all the "sorry I can't help you" letters also.
Way to go !!!!! Champagne !!!!
Minnesota's Speaker of their House says the votes are together for a vote in favor of marriage equality there, and the Minnesota Senate will vote Saturday. Great for Delaware, now let's make Minnesota #12!
The Illinois State Senate has already passed a marriage equality bill there, we're waiting for the Illinois House to vote.
New England and the West Coast are becoming moral cesspools and fiscal disasters. They should secede from the U.S. and form their own country, instead of attempting to drag the rest of the nation down with them.
Thank you Delaware. Which State will be next
39 to go!
11 down 39 to go.
LOVE.WINS.AGAIN! You can't deny it. You can't pray against it. You can't continue suppressing those who are not like you.
How can you approve something that does not exist? Can anyone marry from Leviticus 20: 13 ; Jude verse 7
"uncleanness" Romans1: 24, 28 "a reprobate mind"; "I abhorred them" Leviticus 20: 23 ??
What.... because all couples can marry suddenly people who can not accept the change wont know if they are male or female? Wow... NOM gets more ignorant every day.
Eleven (+ DC) and counting. It is instructive that all but anomalous IA are in the northeast or Atlantic seaboard, likely to be joined soon by CA. That indicates both the liberal/progressive nature of that part of the country and the difficulty there will be with GLBT equality efforts in the south and mid-country states unless SCOTUS intervenes.
Sometimes justics and freedom come in small steps. 11 down, 39 to do.
While not a personal issue, I'm happy for those for whom it'll mean a lot, the divorce lawyers.
To my gay friends, "It's a trap!" :)
Well, that's nice for Delaware.
This is a great ruling and a huge victory! However, I HATE what they did to that American flag.
Yes! It's about time more people wake up to the fact that I NEVER said gays could not be married!!!!
Well our country is finally headed down the toilet It is a total despicable for any state to give same sex marriages the same status as the marriage of a man and a woman under God. But then our country no longer cares about God. We are allowing our country to be destroyed from within. May God help us before it is too late...
11 US States, 14 countries and two other sub-national jurisdictions with UK and Scotland soon to follow, and counting. I can only hope SCOTUS sees the writing on the wall and rules on the right side of history, overturning Prop 8 and DOMA.
"That means that anyone who cannot accept this radical and flawed change to marriage is going to be subjected to punishment."
Can someone please explain how they will be punished? I have a feeling they won't except for "ooh, I feel icky that other people are happy."