Same-Sex Marriage in Delaware

“I love history.”

Vikky Bandy spoke these words after she and partner Karen Peterson became the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Delaware on July 1.

Ms. Bandy was presumably reflecting on the historic nature of the day and her role in it.  On May 7, Governor Markell signed the bill into law, making Delaware one of thirteen states to recognize marriage equality. Last Monday, the first day the law went into effect, 108 ceremonies took place throughout our state—53 in New Castle County, 16 in Kent, and 39 in Sussex. You can read more about it here.

ImageOver the last thirty years, the LGBT rights movement in Delaware has encompassed a wide variety of issues including AIDS, non-discrimination in the workplace, protection of gay youth, marriage equality, gays in the military, and violence prevention.  Currently, the Delaware Historical Society holds two large collections relating to LGBT history. The John Ward Collection provides excellent information about the early years of the gay rights movement in Delaware. The second collection, the Diamond Edge Foundation Papers, contains a more contemporary history of the movement. The foundation, established in 1994 by Judith Armstrong, worked to promote “understanding of sexual orientation issues in the State of Delaware and surrounding areas.” DHS is committed to expanding our collecting in this area so that we may better tell the stories of all Delawareans.


We often talk about history as a “march toward progress,” but it’s neither that linear nor that simple. The recognition of same-sex marriage in Delaware is not the end of the story. What history will Delawareans make tomorrow?


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