Delaware same-sex couples aren't running down the aisle
The mad rush to get married has dwindled a little, according to a survey of Delaware's Clerk of the Peace offices.
On July 1, Delaware issued a total of 108 same-sex marriage licenses and civil union conversions as same-sex marriage officially became legal in the state.
Many couples wanted to mark the historic day by converting their relationship to marriage as soon as legally possible, but now that the day has passed, New Castle County Clerk of the Peace Ken Boulden said many couples will take their time down heading aisle.
“That day was amazing, the numbers were overwhelming and far exceeded what we expected, which told me that the numbers after that would be lower,” said Boulden. “People realize that there is no rush, they have a full calendar year to go through the conversion.”
Boulden said the number of marriage licenses issued the rest of week have been much more “normal,” averaging three to four a day.
He added that it will likely pick up again slightly after the holiday weekend.
Boulden said one challenge they face is trying to contact the more than 700 couples who possess a civil union, to let them know about the steps of converting.
“Our civil union statutes were so popular, and we had many couples from out of state so we are now putting together locating programs to track down those people to let them know that over the next calendar year they need to get back here to visit us to pick up and update their paperwork,” explained Boulden.
He added that his office has spent the past several weeks coming up with a system to organize and store the new marriage licenses.
“We had to design and implement an entirely new licensing system and the reason being is that the data we input having to do with personal information had to be sorted and stored,” explained Boulden. “Forever, that has been for opposite-sex couples, and now we had to develop ways to sort that to accommodate same-sex couples. We have to comply with federal standards to submit that information to our state Bureau of Vital Statistics which is then available for the federal government to access for IRS.”
That information is especially important as both the federal government and same-sex couples navigate the new federal same-sex marriage laws following the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Lisa Goodman, president of Equality Delaware explained that while the LGBT community is “basking in the glow of equality” they face a challenging reality of figuring out the state and federal benefits.
“Figuring out the governmental logistics of marriage is still more complicated for the LGBT community because of the patch work of state laws,” explained Goodman. “We have couples who live in Pennsylvania, but work in Delaware and who had Delaware civil unions and the question for them is – will the federal government recognize their marriage. I believe that the answer to that is likely to be ‘yes.’”
Goodman added that the Equality Delaware website has a comprehensive FAQ coordinated by Lambda Legal to help same-sex couples navigate the marriage laws in the state.
She added that they will continue to update the web page as more federal guidance becomes available through the Obama administration.