Steve Elkins: His Voice is Still Heard
The voice of Steve Elkins has been silenced—or has it? In many ways, his voice will continue to inspire, to challenge and to comfort those of us who mourn. There will be plenty of time to grieve later. For now, let us celebrate the life that Steve lived, and the legacy he leaves behind. That celebration begins with voices of key persons who knew Steve.
Peter C. Schwartzkopf, Delaware State Representative, District 14, Speaker of the House: “I first met Steve Elkins in the summer of 2002. I was the Captain of DSP Troop 7 so I knew who he was but I had never really met him. I had decided to run for election as State Representative and someone said ‘you need to talk to Steve Elkins.’ So, I did. I came to talk politics and he was there to talk about CAMP Rehoboth!
“My wife and I became good friends with Steve and Murray over the last 16 years and we worked together on landmark legislation like equal rights and marriage equality. I was so happy as Speaker of the House to bang the gavel passing marriage equality because I knew that, for the first time, our state would recognize Steve and Murray’s marriage as equal to my own.
“Steve was such a delightful and caring man who dedicated a big portion of his life to fighting on behalf of others. When he and Murray founded CAMP Rehoboth, little did they know that they were building a bridge that would unite the residents and visitors to Rehoboth. He won everyone over with his personality, his infectious yet devious smile, and his willingness to talk to anyone about the need to be inclusive of others. In my mind, Steve will always be the heartbeat of CAMP Rehoboth and that will be his lasting legacy! He will be missed by all but never forgotten.”
Dr. Ernesto B. Lopez, Delaware State Senate, District 6: “With the passing of Steve Elkins, the State of Delaware has lost a true champion for decency and kindness, along with love and equality. It is up to us, all of us, regardless of sexual orientation or political ideology or practice of faith, to continue to find the common ground and goodwill which Steve worked so tirelessly to obtain not just for himself but for others.”
Gail Launay-Tarlecki, Vice Chair of the State Human Relations Commission: “I met Steve in 1996 at a meeting to discuss adding sexual orientation as a protected class under state anti-discrimination laws. Steve was there as an advocate for human rights and the rights of the LGBT community. His determination to create parity was at the core of his being, but his pleasant, positive demeanor was evident.
“In 2006, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner appointed Steve to the State Human Relations Commission. Steve served as a member of the Legislative Committee and provided commitment, leadership and counsel on legislation related to civil unions, same-sex marriage, the death penalty, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Steve later left the Commission after more than 10 years of dedicated and purposeful service.
“I appreciated Steve for being a kind and thoughtful person, and a courageous advocate and champion for the LGBT community. Steve had a way of lighting up a room and he knew how to touch and influence people. People wanted to lean in and listen to him. Steve’s determination to create an inclusive hometown and later expand that across the state of Delaware has had a profound impact on Delawareans and is a lasting legacy that will be hard to forget and always appreciated.”
Kathy McGuiness, Commissioner, City of Rehoboth Beach: “Steve Elkins played a major role in helping to shape not only Rehoboth Beach, but our counties and state through his gentle activism of inclusion. Growing up in Rehoboth Beach, I was fortunate to be a part of a special community that was diverse and eclectic. It was normal for my macho Greek dad, former football player and Rehoboth Lifeguard, to welcome my older sister’s pals, gay or straight, into our home.
“As the area began to expand, change and grow, unfortunately so did the division. When this division became apparent, an ‘us against them’ attitude surfaced. Steve and Murray formed CAMP Rehoboth, which peacefully united this community, not only in the LGBTQ community, but also with other entities, non-profits, and the municipal government officials. Steve was a pioneer, a partner working with every group from Rehoboth Beach Main Street to the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Co. His efforts created 25 years of unity that will move us forward. I am grateful to have been able to serve with him as a CAMP Rehoboth Board member, partner with Steve in community dinners, and most importantly, call this beautiful soul my true friend. Steve has left his positive mark on this city and its people!”
It has been my profound privilege to walk with Steve in this life. Little did I know when I moved to Rehoboth Beach that I would be blessed by his wit, his insight, and his care. I will still hear his voice challenging me to Create a More Positive Rehoboth.