Delaware legalizes gay marriage

By Amy Cherry 8:10pm, May 7, 2013 - Updated 9:05am, May 8, 2013
WDEL's Amy Cherry talks with Sen. Karen Peterson, who came out publicly, for the first time, during the Senate gay marriage debate
Delaware becomes the eleventh state to legalize gay marriage.

The sound of cheers rang out in the Senate chamber as gay marriage became law in Delaware in a 12 to 9 vote. Governor Markell signed the measure into law just 30 minutes later.

"I never thought I'd see this happen in my lifetime," says Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Stanton).

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Peterson who came out on the Senate floor, for the first time publicly revealing she and her partner Vickie have been together for 24 years.

"I am who I am and I wish every married person in the state were as happy as I am," says Peterson.

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Just the day before, she told me she wasn't sure whether she would speak up or stay silent.

"So this was a huge step for me today because there are a lot of people here who would not be supportive, would be critical condemn" she says, but in the end, "I'm in my sixties now. I'm to a point my life where if you like it that's fine, if you don't, that's fine too."

The measure won key last-minute votes from Senators Bethany Hall-Long (D-Middletown), who announced her support on her Facebook page towards the end of the two-and-a-half hour debate. Senator Cathy Cloutier (R-Brandywine Hundred) also voted in favor of same-sex marriage.

Opponents like Sen. Bob Venables (D-Laurel) argue the measure destroys the traditional view of marriage.

"I think this is carrying it too far to say that a man marries a man and a man marries a woman for their self-satisfaction," says Venables.

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He and others like Sen. Gary Simpson believe gay marriage will lead to polygamy.

To that, Peterson says, "If my relationship somehow diminishes or demeans the institution of marriage, then you need to work on your marriage."

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