Earlier this week, I was honored to join with hundreds of students at the University of Delaware for a rally on marriage equality. As you can see from this footage – the atmosphere was energizing. It has been remarkable to be engaged in the fast-moving transformation of public opinion on the issue of marriage equality – momentum that can be attributed, in large part, to our youth. Much as the civil rights and women’s liberation movements served as a call-to-action for young adults of the 60s and 70s, debating issues like marriage equality and gender identity will become defining moments in their lifetime. And yet, for many of them, the current debate leaves them perplexed.
Two years ago, I was proud to sign landmark civil union legislation into law, making Delaware one of only a handful of states to allow same-sex civil unions and fully recognize same-sex relationships. Over 600 people celebrated together at what was described as one of the most emotional bill signings in forty years. Yet, when I got home and told my two teenage children about the event, they couldn’t believe it wasn’t already the law. The concept of discrimination is something our children first learn about in history class. They learn that, decades ago, someone’s gender or skin color would impact on where a person could learn, work or even sit on a bus. They learn that young people, just like them, chose to fight against discrimination and won. As a result, our young people today grow up learning tolerance, acceptance and inclusion – important lessons as we progress as a society. Yet, as we unveiled legislation here in Delaware yesterday and continue to hear debates across the country regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage, it is evident discrimination still exists. We must use this momentum, this energy and this evidence of growing support to take another historic step toward true equality. Together, we will write the next chapter in history and prove, once again, that in Delaware, justice and equality move one way – forward.