Post submitted by Karl Bach, Former HRC Senior Regional Field Organizer
Governor Jack Markell just signed Senate Bill 97 into law. This legislation adds gender identity and expression to Delaware’s existing anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws. This law takes effect immediately and will prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, and credit.
With this historic move, Delaware joins 16 other states and the District of Columbia in ensuring basic fairness for transgender residents and visitors. SB 97 was approved by the Senate earlier this month and by the House yesterday. The Senate this afternoon approved minor amendments made in the House. Governor Markell, a strong supporter of LGBT rights, moved swiftly to sign the bill after final passage.
Lisa Goodman, President of Equality Delaware, said in an email to supporters, “This landmark legislation wouldn’t have been possible without the leadership of legislators like Majority Whip Senator Margaret Rose Henry, President Pro Tem Senator Patricia Blevins, and Representative Bryon Short. It also would not have been possible without the leadership of Governor Markell, and the effort and engagement of hundreds of volunteers and citizens who contacted their legislators, and helped others to do so.”
Goodman added, “Equality Delaware is so grateful for the support and expertise of HRC in helping us pass the Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Bill. HRC stayed on the ground in Delaware through the entire process, and Karl Bach and Sarah Warbelow were invaluable in helping us attain these protections for transgender Delawareans.”
Surrounded by her tearful parents after the final vote, Sarah McBride remarked, “Today is a great day for Delaware. I couldn't be prouder to be a Delawarean. I'm grateful for the compassionate and courageous legislators who stood up for basic fairness for all people, for the Governor and Attorney General's support, and for the LGBT activists and allies whose tireless work made this day possible. After today's vote, transgender people now know that Delaware is a safe and welcoming state for everyone to live and work.”
“The Delaware Legislature sent a clear message today that transgender residents deserve to be treated equally and protected under the law,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Delaware advocates and lawmakers are standing up and ensuring that the First State is one which welcomes all people, and provides the same protections and opportunities.”
I’ve been working in Delaware with Equality Delaware on the marriage equality bill and gender identity nondiscrimination bill since January. I’m proud to say that I was a part of the robust field organizing effort for SB 97. As part of the campaign to pass the gender identity nondiscrimination bill, the Equality Delaware field staff mobilized more than 5,000 supporters to contact legislators through calls, postcards and emails. The Equality Delaware field team also engaged nearly 200 local business owners to publicly support the nondiscrimination bill.