Delaware Governor Jack Markell [official website] signed [press release] a same-sex marriage bill [HB 75] into law on Tuesday, making Delaware the eleventh US state to legalize same-sex marriage, and the second to do so [JURIST report] in the past week. Markell signed the bill shortly after a 12-9 vote in the Delaware State Senate [official website] Tuesday afternoon. Introduced barely a year after the state approved same-sex civil unions [JURIST report], supporters of the same-sex marriage bill noted that if the US Supreme Court [official website] strikes down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive], civil unions will offer no protections or tax benefits under federal law. Effective July 1, the state will discontinue civil union ceremonies, performing only marriages, and all existing civil unions will be converted to same-sex marriages.
In March the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two same-sex marriage cases. The first case, Hollingsworth v. Perry [JURIST report], examines the validity of Proposition 8 [JURIST news archive], a California referendum that revoked same-sex marriage rights. In the second case, United States v. Windsor [JURIST report], the court will examine the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA. The court granted certiorari [JURIST report] in the two cases in December. Both cases could have an important impact on the ongoing same-sex marriage controversy in the US.