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State lawmakers form LGBTQ caucus

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

State lawmakers are forming a caucus to support the advancement of LGBTQ Delawareans in the legislature.


Following the lead of the Legislative Black Caucus formed last year to tackle racial injustice issues in the First State, Delaware’s LGBTQ lawmakers formed their own caucus to bring more LGBTQ issues to the forefront.


State Sen. Sarah McBride is one of the co-chairs of the caucus along with the other LGBTQ members of the legislature, State Rep. Eric Morrison and State Sen. Marie Pinkney. 


The bipartisan caucus met for the first time last week, to gather issues they’re hearing from the LGBTQ community in the state. McBride says listening to the community will be a focus.


“I think some of the conversations are still early. But a number of the issues we’re hearing from the community, which is what we talked about, what are we hearing from the LGBTQ community,” she said. “We’re hearing a desire for Delaware to make progress in banning the gay and trans panic defense.”


The gay and trans panic defense is a legal strategy that seeks to allow a jury to find a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent action, including murder.


12 states and the District of Columbia have banned the defense, including neighboring New Jersey.


McBride says other issues this caucus will look at include increased LGBTQ education in public school, greater access to healthcare and stronger discrimination protections.


The caucus plans to determine which issues have possible legislative remedies and which may involve conversations with the private sector.


“Some of these require legislative action, some of these require legislators working with the private sector,” McBride said. “So we’re excited to be taking an all of the above approach to really tackle these issues.”


The caucus includes bipartisan legislators, but lacks any representation from Sussex County. Below is a full list of caucus members:

  • Paul Baumbach (D-Newark)
  • Krista Griffith (D-Hockesin)
  • Deb Heffernan (D-Bellefonte)
  • Larry Lambert (D-Claymont)
  • Sean Lynn (D-Dover)
  • Eric Morrison (D-Newark)
  • Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek)
  • Mike Smith (R-Pike Creek Valley)
  • Kyle Evans Gay (D-Brandywine Hundred)
  • Sarah McBride (D-Claymont)
  • Marie Pinkney (D-Bear)
  • Dake Sokola (D-Newark)
  • Laura Sturgeon (D-Hockessin)
  • Bryan Townsend (D-Newark/Bear)

This story has been updated to correct spelling errors.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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