The Sussex County Marriage Bureau is beginning the process to accept applications for same-gender marriages after Delaware's passage this week of the Civil Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom Act, which will allow any couple, regardless of gender, to legally wed in the First State.
Sussex County Clerk of the Peace John F. Brady announced Wednesday, just hours after Gov. Jack Markell signed HB 75 into law, that Marriage Bureau staff is already at work preparing for the transition. The new law, passed by the Delaware Senate on May 7, will allow any couple, whether of opposite or the same genders, to enter into civil marriage. Delaware joins 10 other states in recognizing same-gender marriages under state law.
The new law takes effect July 1. However, applications for licenses will be issued prior to that date. Also, after July 1, no new civil unions will be performed by the Sussex County Marriage Bureau, and any existing civil unions performed in the state since Jan. 1, 2012, will convert to civil marriages.
In the coming weeks, staff in the Sussex County Marriage Bureau will be working to update computer software, as well as applications and other forms, to be in compliance with the new law. Updated applications and forms should be available by mid-June both in the office and on the Marriage Bureau's website, at www.sussexcountyde.gov/dept/cop.
While licenses may be available ahead of the law's effective date, no same-gender marriage ceremonies will be performed before 12:01 a.m. on July 1, Brady said.
For more information or questions, please contact the Marriage Bureau at (302) 853-1717.