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First State lawmakers pursue ERA protections for LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Legislation introduced in the House would add more protections to the Delaware Constitution’s equal rights clause.

House Bill 199 would add “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “disability” to the state constitution’s equal rights clause adding protection against discrimination based on these qualities.

If passed into law, Delaware would be the first state in the nation with these protections for LGBTQ+ residents in its state constitution.

This new equal rights amendment was announced at a rally outside of Legislative Hall Thursday as the state celebrates Pride Month.

House Bill Sponsor State Rep. Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) says this is another in a movement to protect the rights of all Delawareans.

"This legislation we announced today represents an ongoing generational effort to ensure that equality in the law of the land of Delaware and that no legal barrier stands in the way of fair treatment for all people without regard to any other characteristics that make us who we are," said Longhurst.

State Sen. Sarah McBride (D-Claymont), the highest ranking transgender elected official in U.S. history, calls the bill significant.

"A historic day to be a person with a disability, a historic day to be LGBTQ, a historic day to be a Delawarean, as our state seeks to become the first state in the nation to pass an equal rights amendment to our Constitution that clearly, explicitly, and undeniably protects the LGBTQ community," said McBride.

The amendment will need to pass in the current two-year General Assembly session and again in the 2023-2024 session to take effect.

Lawmakers created the equal rights clause in 2019 for sex, then approved adding race, color and national origin as classifications earlier this year.

The legislation was assigned to the House Administration Committee.


Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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