This is the July 4th issue of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, and just hours before it goes to the printer comes the news that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional! Here at CAMP Rehoboth, folks began gathering even before the ruling, and our doors were open all day for an ongoing celebration. The day this issue comes out (June 28) is the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York’s Greenwich Village, and as we continue to celebrate gay pride month, it’s fitting that DOMA went down during this time. I’m suddenly wishing that I could be in New York this Sunday for what will surely be an amazing Pride celebration!
Details of both the DOMA and Prop 8 cases will be all over the news in the coming weeks, but basically, in finding DOMA unconstitutional, the Court explained that the states have long had the responsibility of regulating marriage and since some states have given same-sex couples the right to marry, DOMA discriminated against those who were legally married in their state. The Proposition 8 case was much as we expected, and the Supreme Court ruled that its opponents had no right to appeal, which means that a lower court’s ruling will stand. Gay marriage will resume in California.
Here in Delaware we have had a tremendous year: first with the passage of the Marriage Equality Act, and now the success of SB 97, the Prohibiting Gender Identity Discrimination bill. Back on June 6, the Delaware Senate voted 11 to 7 in favor of the Gender Identity bill, which added gender identity and expression to Delaware’s nondiscrimination and hate crime legislation. On June 18, the Delaware House passed SB 97, 24 to 17, and added an amendment clarifying the definition of gender identity. Because of the amendment, the bill returned to the Senate for a final vote on June 19. After it again passed the Senate, Governor Jack Markell signed the bill into law later that day. All of us involved with the work of Equality Delaware, celebrate the great successes we have had in 2013. Though many people worked to make it happen, Lisa Goodman and Mark Purpura continue to deserve our thanks for their strong and consistent leadership through this extraordinary year.
On July 1, the celebrating begins again, when the first same-sex marriages begin to take place across the state. To commemorate the day, each of the three Delaware counties will be conducting a symbolic celebration. The Sussex County celebration will take place at CAMP Rehoboth at 10 a.m. when the Sussex County Clerk of the Peace John Brady officially converts Chris Beagle and Eric Engelhart’s civil union into a marriage. All are invited, and there will be cake and champagne. On a much darker note, Westboro Baptist Church has finally focused on the progress we are making here in Delaware. They too will be in the State on July 1, but oddly enough, not in Rehoboth Beach. Their vile website, which I was loath to even look upon, I must say, says they are picketing: the clerk of the peace in Dover; the House of Representatives in Dover; and Dover Air Force Base. Go figure?
Rehoboth’s own Poodle Beach frequently shows up on various “best gay Beaches” lists, and the latest one has us at number four in the world—right between Rio and Mykonos. On June 1 of this year, HIM magazine posted its top ten gay beaches worldwide. Number 1 was North Bondi Beach in Sydney Australia; then South Beach in Miami (2) and Farme de Amodeo in Rio, Brazil (3). Poodle Beach (4) was next, followed by Elia Beach in Mykonos, Greece (5); Playa De La Basses Rodons, Stiges, Spain (6); Fire Island Pines, NY (7); Playa Los Muertos, Puerta Vallarta, Mexico (8); Clifton 3rd, Cape Town, South Africa (9); (and tied for number 10)—Hilton Beach, Tel Aviv, Israel, and Sebastian Street Beach in Fort Lauderdale.