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Two first steps were taken today.

First, Senate Bill 27, a constitutional amendment to define marriage as consisting solely of the union of one man and one woman, garnered only nine supporters in the Senate out of the 21 members, failing to gain the two-thirds majority needed to approve a constitutional amendment.

Because this was the first leg of a constitutional amendment, 14 affirmative votes were needed for passage. Instead, the vote failed to even yield a simple majority for the bill.

Sen. Robert Venables, D-Laurel [a conservadem], who authored the bill, told chamber after several members spoke in opposition of the legislation that "it doesn’t sound like much I said sunk in."

Oh it sunk in all right. And it helped sink the bill. Hate and fear can only sell for so long.

Second, the State House passed HB5, the anti-discrimination bill sponsored by House Majority Leader Peter Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth) that would finally prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The vote was 26-14.

According to the House Press Release, this bill is nearly identical to those bills that have passed the House before with broad bipartisan support.  

"This is equal rights legislation, not special rights legislation," Rep. Schwartzkopf said. "This legislation is based on the very foundation on which our country stands – that we treat all of our citizens with dignity and respect, and that includes respecting the human rights of all people. Discrimination in any form is wrong. Right now, people can be denied housing or a job if someone disagrees with a person’s sexual orientation or what they think is their sexual orientation.

However, on those occasions where the bill has passed the house, it only found a comfortable resting place in the desk drawer of Senator Thurman Adams (D-1950’s) once it is considered by the State Senate.  Senator Adams is the President Pro Tem of the Senate, and as such, in Delaware, he has the power to table any bill he opposes.  The procedure is referred to as the "desk drawer veto." Progressives in Delaware have long opposed that procedure, and Senator Adams for his constant obstructionism of progressive legislation, such as, you know, making it illegal to discriminate against your fellow man just because of who he or she is.  

In Delaware, liberals and progressives have two adversaries: Republicans, and downstate Conservative Dems who make Blue Dogs look like the late great Paul Wellstone.  Indeed, even though we Democrats have controlled the Senate for years, and the Governorship for the last 16 years, Senator Adams has been the leader of the Senate for all that time, blocking important progressive legislation, and our last two Democratic Governors have been Liebercrat Tom Carper and his protege, Ruth Ann Minner, a downstate Democrat.  

But maybe, finally, the dam is breaking.  Progressive Dems won election this last cycle to both the House and Senate, allowing us to bolster the Democratic majority in the Senate, and take control of the State House for the first time in decades.    And we elected two Progressives to the Executive Branch: Governor Markell and Lt. Governor Matt Denn.  

The Hate Amendment in Delaware is now dead.   And now the Anti-Discrimination Bill heads to the Senate, where it will easily pass if it comes to the floor.  With retirement staring him in the face, here is hoping that Senator Adams has better angels on his shoulder this time.

Originally posted to Delaware Dem on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 05:21 PM PDT.

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