(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
A sinful lifestyle is just what it is. Has nothing to do with discrimination. Starting to be the norm after all this is the abomination of the Obamanation
Next after this we need to change the laws on Bigomy! Why should the gov't tell me how many wives I am allowed to have and love?
Hey CHERLESS BRANCH: God, aka sky fairy, did not "create" you for the purpose of judging others. According to your fairy book that's HIS job, so suck it up buttercup..
the times they are changing!!!!! and it is changing all in the name of Equality and Liberty!!!!! what a wonderful day it is!
The MN House will vote tomorrow on their own marriage equality bill! Hope we can be state #12!
This is just one small step in the long battle against bigotry.
To Joe: Satan did not write a book like the Bible to inform human race. Oops! Jesus didn't either. People wrote the book after Jesus died. Right?! People who interpret the meaning of the Bible and set the rules of life for their followers too. Any possbile human errors or mis-interpretaton? Is the Book of Mormon or the Coran also valid? The only certainity in life is – Everything changes, nothing stays forever. The way of Christian life in the past (e.g. 20th Century) was not the same as today. Well educated human beings do not blindfold themselves; they will question and challenge the validity of any religious doctrine in the present time.
I hope you all know that this no longer makes homosexuals special.
Gay marriage is wrong. You want to blame this on religion?!?!? Are you stupid? Let's look at this from an anatomical level.
The rectum was designed to assist in waste extraction. It serves no other purpose. The female anatomical model was not designed to physically conceive with itself. Now, if people are doing this to try and get tax laws passed on a federal level...hell, why don't I just marry my laptop? Let's keep changing the definition of "marriage" until is is no longer relevant.
"People we need to wake up God didn’t create us to have same sex marriage"
God didn't create us to hate each other, but evangelicals are long the master of that.
What about what GOD said.
what about it? I suppose you just got off the phone with him/her and that was the final word? Here's a tip you clown....NOT EVERYONE BELIEVES IN YOUR GOD. YOU CANNOT CLAIM TO SPEAK FOR HIM. GET OVER IT. Little by little people are entering the 21st century. The haters are quickly becoming the minority and here's what we say to you.......boo hoo
I've read six pages of comments and every single one denouncing this law did so on the basis of religion. This debate has NOTHING to do with religion. NOTHING.
I understand it's confusing because for some inexplicable reason our government in it's eternal ineptitude decided to use the term "marriage", which is commonly used in most religions, when defining tax laws as well as laws having to do with the rights of family members as it relates to hospital records, wills, criminal records, etc. But you need to understand there is a government definition of marriage, with has nothing to do with you or your church, and there is a definition (and restrictions) your church uses for marriage ... which oh-by-the-way is different across religions.
So ... if you still have a problem with this, a logical course of action would be to:
1) Start a movement to re-brand the legal (e.g. state-defined ... again, not religious-defined) term for "marriage" as a civil union.
2) Make sure every law that is written strickens the term marriage from it, and in it's stead uses the term civil union.
3) That will pretty much solve your problem by kicking marriage out of the state realm thus giving you back control over what the word means.
As a married heterosexual who is agnostic, I really don't care if you succeed in this endevor because it will not change how much I love my wife if you decide to start calling our union something different ... as long as my rights aren't impacted.
Alternately, you could keep shouting at the wind by using a term you clearly define as something COMPLETELY different from how our legislators and your opponents define the term.
This clearly means that in order to get married you now must be neutered. Also, that those that disagree with marriage equality will actually be punished, like "go sit in the corner and think about your life" punished. No dessert after dinner is next.
@ Prof. Zoidberg....We do not want to be special, we want to have the same rights as everyone else....How does that make us special? It means we want to be treated like any person.
At this time 11 have legalized same sex marriage but 38 have defined marriage as one man and one woman.
The advance of GLBT equality expands freedom for everyone. This is a social justice movement that will not stop until that freedom exists throughout the US. It cannot be stopped–time and demography are on the side of SSM.
Very proud of Delaware and New England in general. It is interesting that the abolitionist regions, including the midwest, are acting for equality, while the ex-slave states will probably be forced to do so by the Supreme Court, the way they were forced on civil rights for African Americans. Equality is equality, and history is powerful.
The same state that gave us Joe "Empty Suit" Biden. What else can you expect.
YAY! This is GREAT news!
I guess we're going to re-design our flag next, huh.
So when will they start carting off to jail pastors who won't perform these ceremonies?
Bigamy will be next. I really want to have a harrem. If I can love each person that they love me what does the Government have to do with my privacy. You allow same sexes to wed, then I should be allowed to have as many wives that will have me. Or vice verse. At least I'll be putting more humans on the planet. DNA testing will prevent inter family marriages.
I get such a kick out of the folks who condemn others in the name of a religion that preaches tolerance and love to all.
Welcome to the equality club Delaware! Hopefully, Minnesota will be joining you by the weekend! And for those who want their religion to dictate what the rights of people are in the United States, I would suggest you'd be more comfortable someplace like Iran.