(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
Male and Female were designed by nature or natures God, I don't care which you choose, for each other.
Once Gay marriage is the law of the land, and we know it will happen, then one must approve multiple marriages as it would be unfair to the bi-s.e.x.u.a.l folks. Of course then I should be able to marry a person even if he or she is already married. Isn't marriage simply a contract between two consenting adults.
Why and/or how can you restrict marriage in any way?
Marriage is a civil right + gender discrimination is illegal regarding civil rigts violating equal protection = gays win all court cases
Lets all celebrate perversion. Such a shame!
Congratulations Delaware. As most of you know we're a bit slow down here in the south.
I have been married nearly 56 years and never once in all those years has a gay person affected my marriage.
its just plain wrong.
Seattle Sue, surely that is not the basis by which you determine whether laws are good or bad. Are not some things wrong, even if they don't affect you personally?
God supports this
Like anything progressive that occurs in this country; the northeast is spearheading this incredible disparity of equality. I'm so surprised. A bunch of religious people cramming their beliefs down the throats of people in forums in a desperate attempt at grabbing a false sense of superiority. I'm so surprised.
To all you flaming liberals dancing in the streets of DC, you had your day in the sun. Please remember, it is not over until the fat lady sings, in this case the Supreme Court. Did anyone in your life ever tell you not to count your chickens before they hatch?
Once SSM is legal in CA, the proportion of people living in SSM states will be large enough that the banning of SSM in other states will raise serious equal protection issues. If the state-acceptance provision of DOMA is overturned, then the equal protection violation will exist within every state. SCOTUS will be under pressure to take a case suitable for overturning all laws and state constitutional provisions banning SSM. IMO, it is just a matter of time.
Are Civil Unions still an option in DE? And, if so, are heterosexuals allowed to engage in a civil union?
NClaw441–isn't Sue just refuting the claim that SSM is a threat to "traditional" marriages?
It's sad to sit back and see the decline of Western Civilization and be unable to do anything about it.
Today Minnesota will likely become the 12th.
And, God exists only in the minds of those too incompetent to think for themselves.
@workerdrone: Please send your educated ones to help the south. Our hapless institutions such as the University of Virginia and Duke University just can't function without some nawthun help. And will you please send the University of Alabama a decent football coach?
It's happening. Get used to it. In five years all the states and the fed government will recognize same sex marriage. In ten years most of the world will, and the youth in this country will wonder what the big deal was about.
For all the protest, yelling and claims of persecution it's always the same... ask any anti-gay marriage person how gay marriage harms straight marriage and they have nothing. Zero. There is no harm, there is only bias.
Who are you to say it's wrong? You don't have to like gay people but you can stay out of there lives. I know that's difficult for some of you but you should really try.
What a great day for justice and equality! I can't wait for it to be legal in all 50 states.
Delaware: The little state w/ the big heart.
Are the little straight folks threatened by the idea of two guys or two women having a healthy relationship outside the bounds of convention while they have rocking sex? Does it titillate you, make you unwanted fantasies, from which you run screaming into orthodoxy and outrage? Does you seemingly all powerful creator that you created in your mind feel threatened by this "abomination?"
The USA is going to hell in a hand basket really quick,the downgrade slope is getting slippery every second.
We are witnessing the decline and fall of modern Rome.
Perversion will RULE the empire...
It irritates me so badly that the only real reason people give to be an opponent to gay marriage is God. Well I hate to break it you folks, a lot of people in the United States aren't religious or practice religions other than Christianity. You really can't use that as a legal basis since the United States was founded on the principle of freedom of religion. Great job Delaware and let's go Supreme Court!!!!