Delaware's First Same-Sex Marriage Happened to This Courageous Senator
It is clear that major history has been made this past week in the wake of the rulings of the Supreme Court. For same-sex couples in Delaware, their time has also come, with State Senator Karen Peterson and her partner Vikki Bandy leading the way as the first couple to be legally married in the state.
Peterson and Bandy, together for 24 years, became the state's first legally wed same-sex couple on 8:30 a.m. July 1 at the New Castle County Clerk of the Peace in Wilmington among 35 family and friends. According to DelawareOnline, clerks of the peace across the state agreed not to perform any same-sex marriages until after 10 a.m., ensuring that Peterson and Bandy would be the first to take this historic step.
"Never, ever. I still can't believe it. Who would think at 63 I'd be getting married, you know?" said Peterson for NBC10 news.
Delaware became the 11th state to legalize same-sex marriage back in May with a 12-9 vote. Democratic Governor Jack Markell signed the legislation into law immediately after the bill's clearance by the state house.
Sen. Peterson, a co-sponsor of the bill, was among those to lead the charge during debate — during which she came out as being gay. Her announcement made headlines across the country. "No one chose to be gay," Peterson said. "We are what God made us. We don't need to be fixed. We aren't broken."
Anti-gay protestors at from the Westboro Baptist Church made an appearance in an attempt to quell the jubilation, but they were no match for the counter-protestors who out-numbered them nearly 10 times over. As Peterson and Bandy left the clerk's office to address the crowd, they were greeted with chants of "God Bless the Gays!"
Senator Peterson along her wife, Vikki, joins the ranks of married gay politicians such as Rep. Barney Frank and his husband, Jim Ready.
However, if you ask Senator Peterson and Vikki, they have already been married for 23 years. Their wedding bands showed significant wear as they flashed them to the crowd, having been exchanged in a small commitment ceremony 23 years ago.
As we elect our representatives, we do so because we see them as leaders of our community, and examples of the best our constituency has to offer. It seems only fitting that in Delaware, same-sex couples look to Senator Peterson to be the first to legally say, "I do."