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July 3, 2009


Delaware is 21st state to pass lesbian-gay bias law

Dover, Delaware--State lawmakers sent a sexual orientation nondiscrimination bill to the governor on June 25, passing it through both houses of the legislature in only an hour.

The House passed the measure at 8:30 pm, shortly after the Senate passed an identical bill. In previous legislative sessions, the Senate killed the bill.

Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, one of the billís champions, said that Gov. Jack Markell had expressed support for the measure

When Markell signs it, Delaware will become the 21st state with such a law. But, unlike seven similar state laws passed since 2002, Delawareís does not include gender identity.

The bill adds sexual orientation to the list of protected classes in laws covering housing, employment, public contracting, insurance and public accommodations.

It is the sixth time a gay civil rights law has passed the House, only to be defeated each time in the Senate, if it even made it to a vote there.

Amendments were attempted to prevent schools from teaching positive messages about homosexuality, give sweeping religious exemptions from the law and specify that the bill would not require same-sex marriage.

The Senate defeated each one 12-6, finally passing the bill 14-5.

After the bill cleared the Senate, the House stayed in session until it voted on the measure.

The House also defeated its own versions of the three amendments, along with another anti-marriage amendment to the bill.

When the bill is signed into law, Delaware will become the 21st state--plus the District of Columbia--to protect on the basis of sexual orientation. Fourteen of those, including D.C., also protect on gender identity.

With Delaware, 54% percent of the U.S. population lives in a state, county or city with sexual orientation protections, and 39% in one that covers gender identity. Ohio lacks such a law, but a fifth of its people live in a city with a sexual orientation equal rights ordinance and 13% in one with a gender identity measure.




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