Mark comes from a large family. He has five brothers, and two sisters. He also has six nieces, one nephew, and several aunts and uncles. When Mark decided to come out, his gay uncle gave him a Bob Mackey “Cher” doll as a coming out present. Mark earned his B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Southern California, and his Law Degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is a partner in the Law Firm of Richards, Layton & Finger, P.A. located in Wilmington, Delaware. That means he has to split his time between Rehoboth and Wilmington. When Mark moved to Rehoboth in 2011, he rented a house. He was trying to decide if he wanted to eventually buy a place here. There was a cottage next door that he loved—and wished would go on the market. The next day his wish came true. There was a “For Sale” sign in the yard and he bought the house. Mark and his partner John Lucas became acquainted through a mutual friend while in the San Francisco area. With the help of his friend, Mark was able to locate John through Social Media and they began talking—they hit it off immediately. On New Year’s Eve 2013, John flew from Los Angeles to Rehoboth and they met in person for the first time. It must have been love at first sight, because they have been together ever since. In his free time, Mark enjoys spending time with John and their three dogs, Mister Bojangles, Sir Elton, and Miss Pippa. He also likes to travel, and is a civil rights activist.
When did you start volunteering at CAMP Rehoboth?
I think it was 2012, right after I moved here. But, I was very busy with Equality Delaware from 2011-2013 so my volunteer time was limited.
What events/activities have you been involved with as a volunteer?
I have volunteered at the 6 Futcher Pool Party (serving the Kool-Aid), and the Block Party. Also, I joined the Board of Directors for CAMP Rehoboth in 2015.
What’s your best memory volunteering here?
It was the day the Obergefell (marriage) decision was announced by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015. It was a spur of the moment casual event that turned into a big open house party at CAMP Rehoboth to celebrate the decision. It was one of the happiest days of my life.
Of the many events held by CAMP Rehoboth, which is your favorite and why?
I know it is relatively new, but I really like the Block Party. We are all out on the street, in the open. It’s the closest thing that we have to a Pride celebration in Rehoboth. And we really ought to have a Pride celebration in Rehoboth.
Favorite season here at the beach and why?
Fall. The weather is still nice, the crowds start to thin out, and we have the Bear Weekend.
Name a childhood mentor or someone who influenced you while growing up.
I looked up to my Uncle Jim as a child. I didn’t really realize he was gay until I was older, but he was a free spirit, worked all over the world, and exposed himself to many different cultures and experiences. It influenced me to open my mind, go far away for college, and seek out different experiences.
If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do?
More volunteer work for the LGBTQ community. It is the most rewarding work I have ever done.
Favorite U.S. city and why?
San Francisco. It’s a beautiful city with great people. I love walking around the Castro, which has so much LGBT history.
Night owl or early riser and why?
No question, I am a night owl and not a morning person. I work best later in the day.
Best year of your life and why?
That’s easy, 2013. We won marriage equality and transgender nondiscrimination protections in Delaware, and I met John, temporarily in that order.
Favorite holiday and why?
I’m not a big holiday person, but to me, July 4, Independence Day is my favorite, even though we celebrate it on the wrong day. It’s not a fictional holiday; it reminds us of the struggle we had to fight as a nation for our liberty. Fights for liberty resonate with me.
The LGBT community has made significant progress in the fight for equality over recent years. Did you expect to see this in your lifetime and why or why not?
I absolutely did expect to see it. When it comes to something as fundamental as equality, I am an eternal optimist. It’s just the objectively right moral outcome, and I could see the public sentiment changing rapidly. But it’s important to remember that the fight for equality is not over. Just because laws are passed, that doesn’t mean discrimination ends. We have to continue to educate, continue to advocate for marginalized groups, like our transgender community, and continue to assist LGBTQ people in other states and countries who do not yet enjoy the legal protections that we have in Delaware.
How long have you been coming to Rehoboth?
I moved to Delaware in 1998. That is when I began visiting Rehoboth Beach. However, I only visited once or twice a year before 2011.
Since you began coming to Rehoboth, name the biggest change you’ve seen.
I think the biggest change would have to be the acceptance of LGBTQ people. One of the things I absolutely love about Rehoboth is how people of all identities get along together and just enjoy life.
Name three events that have shaped your life to where it is today.
1. Coming out of the closet at age 32.
2. When Representative Melanie George Smith introduced me to Bob Martz after I came out. Bob has been, and continues to be, an amazing LGBT advocate, and he got me involved in political activism.
3. Meeting my partner, John.
Describe an ideal date night.
Dinner at one of Rehoboth’s amazing restaurants, an after dinner drink at one of our favorite bars, a stroll on the beach, and cuddling on the couch with John and the dogs.
What are you most thankful for?
I am most thankful for the love of John, and our three sweet dogs.
Mark, we thank you for all of the work you do within the LGBTQ community. We are extremely thankful to have you fighting for everyone’s rights, and we are so grateful for your work with CAMP Rehoboth. We are very pleased that you are part of the CAMP Rehoboth Board of Directors, and we hope that you will continue to be a part of CAMP going forward.