My comments to be shared with Governor Markell today during a meeting with advocates for equal relationship recognition for Delaware.
Two years ago a certain candidate for Governor quoted Martin Luther King Jr's 1963 Letter From A Birmingham Jail. It includes the passage: “Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”
Full relationship recognition in Delaware is held hostage for many reasons. One major stumbling block during these tight economic times for our state is the financial impact, including the cost of providing health and retiree benefits to domestic partners equally as we provide to spouses of state workers.
What is the cost to Delaware to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act? What is the cost to Delaware to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act? Why do we accept those costs but reject paying the cost for full relationship recognition? We pay the cost to comply with those Acts because it's the law, and it's the law because brave leaders convinced the country that it is the right thing to do. Full relationship recognition in Delaware is also the right thing to do, and Delaware needs leaders to make this the law, and to pay this cost.
In addition to simply being the morally right thing to do, adding Delaware to the list of states that provide equal relationship recognition strengthens Delaware economically.
Large employers in our state, such as the University of Delaware, have already made the case that in order for our state to compete economically, we need to publicly stand for true equality.
Jack, when you were recruiting members to your Cabinet, didn't you want to be able to choose the best people? What if the state only provided spousal benefits to right-handed employees, and your best candidate was left-handed? Stop this injustice, and free state employers from the shackles of operating in a state that is unwelcoming to same-sex couples.
New Jersey offers civil unions, and Washington DC provides marriage to same-sex couples. How long can Delaware afford to refuse to offer equal relationship recognition? The time is indeed “ripe to do right.”