(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
Every marriage is genderless? I didn't realize this law negated everyone's gender.
Congratulations Delaware! Hopefully, Minnesota will be #12! It's a tidal wave folks :)
Bunch of idiocy
I am confused, how will my marriage to my wife be changed by this? What are the “punishments” I will have to endure due to this law?
Welcome to the human race!
Once the Supreme Court rules, we'll have a much better idea about what the Constitution REALLY says... I'm sure that a couple of the "Conservative" judges will hold their noses and vote in favor of the Constitution.
People we need to wake up God didn't create us to have same sex marriage
Republicans just can't see that their Bigotry and Discrimination is the Real Abomination.
Republicans claim to hate government, yet Bigoted Religion is the worst form of Government in our Human History!
@lgbarn Yeah if you consider animals to be a consenting adult. Children then right? Also not consenting adult and in fact can't enter into a legal contract. Inanimate objects? Also not a consenting adult. So thus far we've been able to rule out anything you can throw at us or will throw at us. It's simple...marriage is between two consenting adults...Bam there's your definition
@blakenaustin Our sense of obligation to the south prevents us from seceding. We can't stand the thought of watching our brethren continue their spiral into toothless hooliganism and morbid obesity. Therefore we will continue to send educated individuals (including doctors and engineers), aid, and education into the south. Your end of the bargin is merely passive acceptance of the improvement of your sad and tiny existences.
This country is moving forward to inclusiveness and equality. I am very happy for same sex couples who desire to have the same rights like the opposite sex couples are now becoming reality in Delaware. The next generation will learn that there is nothing scary about two persons of the same gender deeply loving each other can get married and enjoy the same rights. We all pay tax and should have equal rights under the laws.
11 down 39 to go
I only clicked the link to see what state has decided to stop being backwards. Somehow I knew it wouldn't be one of the deep south states ;) Their time will come. It just might take a century.
To Cherless Branch: God did not create marriage. Period! Marriage is created by man as a transaction between two families. The boy's family pay the girl's family to have the ownership of the girl. That's All Folks! That is nothing romantic about the transaction. God teachs us one key lesson – There is only love.
@cherless branch what exactly did God create us for? As a man, I used to be allowed to marry more than one woman if i wanted to and use her as I pleased. She had no rights, she had no say...it was a deal brokered between her father and I. She was once his property and then he sold her to me so I could do what I wanted and she could talk to my other wives.
GOD doesn't make mistakes.
And God made every gay person in the world. Mortal men made the "rules" to control people.
Stay out of people's bedrooms.
God, it's really quite sad to see republicans trying to play the victims here. "The moral sinkhole in this country is growing," "we are going to Hell," "they're trying to shove the gay agenda down our throats," "many people are offended by this redefining of marriage," "gays bring AIDS," whine, whine, whine, whine! Keep blathering. Your tears sustain me.
FREEDOM is on the march!
@Phyllis Gwendoline Williams
Oh bless your heart my dear Phyllis. If we lived by the laws of the bible you wouldn't be able to read, speak your mind or een really do anything without my say so. If you really want to live by the way of the bible, please for the love of everything holy quit any job you have, ask your husband when you can and can't do anything and for god sake's please don't speak your mind. It's against holy law that you are a free woman. Your father was not a good property owner.
oh rapturous joy. Psalm 12:8
Great News! Congratulations people of Delaware! It is only a matter of time before we have marriage equality nationwide.
Hopefully soon, the east and west coast states will have marriage equality; then we can help the red states in the middle to learn about what Equal RIghts for Everyone really mean. And, for some opponents out there, please stop using animals and pets in this marriage equality arguement. this make you look stupid and un-eduacted. Please do yourself a favor and stop.
Why "two" consenting adults Chris? Where did you get the "two" from?
guess that means that texas will be last – lol to be perfectly honest, Perry gets more than ppl think – from the Fed gov't – I mean, he gets help from the fires & everything else that happens – all he ( and other governors also) has to do is : "declare" some type of "emergency" somewhere in their state – then federal money starts coming in.
Nice! That is great news!
Our Government shouldn't be in the business of deciding who gets married and who doesn't. As long as they are consensual human adults, I see no problem with it. This is America, land of the FREE. If you don't like it, I heard North Korea is a great place to live.
Hmmm gay marriage is legal and none of the horses are eating each other...maybe it's not the end of the world scenario the south still believes it is....and republicans....and many religious fanatics......hmmmmm..