On January 1, 2012, civil unions will be legal in the state of Delaware. Same-sex couples will be allowed to marry and will be afforded the same legal protections of opposite-sex married couples.
While some are busy making plans to maintain their New Year’s resolutions before another year passes them by, some Delaware couples will be planning to spend the rest of their lives in matrimony. What makes these nuptials so special is that they will be among the first unions of a same sex couple ever in the state of Delaware.
Norman Spector and George Everett have been together for 23 years and will be married in a civil union ceremony on January 5, 2012. The couple has just returned from their pre-ceremonial honeymoon in Mexico and are patiently awaiting the big day.
George recalled a feeling of disbelief when The Delaware Civil Unions bill was first passed. “I was so excited, I never thought it was going to happen in our lifetime, I really didn’t, and it was emotional, it was everything, it was exciting, I just didn’t believe it, it’s just a miracle,” George said.
George and Norman met one night in a bar 23 years ago, when George’s mother insisted that he go out and have some fun following a bad break-up. “I had been in a bad relationship so, I was spending a lot of time by myself, and she told me, she said, ‘George you really need to go out’ and I was like ‘no, I don’t want to,’ and she said, ‘you’re going to meet somebody special tonight, I really want you to go out,’ so I said ‘okay’,” George said.
He and Norman met that night and have been together ever since.
George and Norman did have other options. They could have been married in a civil union in another state but it was important to them to be married in their home state of Delaware. “We live here, and this is where we wanted to be. We have options, we could’ve gone to Massachusetts, or whatever, but we thought that we would wait to see what happened here and it would mean a lot more to us if the civil union bill was here and it’s passed and it means a lot to do it in Delaware,” Norman said.
Norman says that the most important part of this bill are the legal freedoms regarding his end of life care that will now be granted to George, whom he affectionately calls, his soul mate. “I’m getting older, and George knows me better than anybody else in this world; he knows that [it’s] quality of life that I want, not quantity. He will know, when to pull the plug, he will be able to do that… he now has, the rights to be in that hospital room with me, or if I pick up a set of keys and I don’t know what they’re for, he knows it’s time to do the right thing for me, he has the choice now, he can make those decisions, and it’s so important, he knows me better than anybody,” Norman said.
Norman and George won’t be the only couples to be married in a civil union ceremony at the beginning of the year. They plan to attend the ceremony of their good friend, Lisa Goodman who will be married to her partner of 14 years, Drew Fennell on New Years Day. Generally, all offices would be closed on January 1, but New Castle County’s Clerk of the Peace, Kenneth W. Boulden has made an exception for a few lucky couples.
Lisa Goodman is the president of Equality Delaware, an organization whose mission is to ensure and promote dignity, safety and equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Delawareans. She played a major role in the development of the Delaware Civil Unions Bill. She said the bill was Equality Delaware’s first initiative that was “carefully drafted” and included input from all Delaware members and constituents in states that have already passed the bill.
However, Goodman initially had doubts about the success of the bill. “As an attorney, I believe that unjust laws can be changed but, while I had faith in the General Assembly [of Delaware], I didn’t fully believe that it would pass in the first session” Goodman said.
She believes that this bill is important for Delaware because civil unions are now legally recognized relationships that provide protection for same-sex couples and send a powerful message to children that “the government recognizes your family.”
Both Goodman and her partner plan to attend George and Norman’s wedding service. George and Norman will have a reception for family and friends on the Saturday following their ceremony.
The New Castle County Clerk of the Peace office is the only office in Delaware that will be open on New Year’s Day for civil union ceremonies. Both Kent and Sussex Counties plan to re-open after the holiday.