Delaware same-sex marriage changes take effect July 1

The amendment to the Delaware Domestic Relations Act legalizing same-sex marriage goes into effect July 1. Under the law, the same rights, benefits, protections, and legal responsibilities apply to married same-sex couples and married opposite-sex couples.

In 2012, Delaware’s Civil Union Equality Act (CUEA) established that civil unions are to be treated as marriages under state law, so employers shouldn’t see much change as a result of the legalization of same-sex marriages. One exception is if your business provides marriage-related services (for instance, a facility that rents out rooms for wedding receptions). In that case, if you refuse to provide marriage-related services to same-sex couples, you could be subject to a discrimination claim under the Delaware Equal Accommodations Law.

Since 2009, Delaware has included sexual orientation in its list of protected categories under the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act. Before the CUEA was passed, employers could justify policies and benefits that applied only to opposite-sex spouses, but the CUEA and the same-sex marriage law mean that such treatment clearly would be in violation of state law.

The new law legalizing same-sex marriage was covered in more detail in the June 2013 issue of Delaware Employment Law Letter.

For more information on the new law, contact employment law attorney Lauren Russell at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP in Wilmington, Delaware. She can be reached at 302-576-3255 or