Delaware lawmakers approved a civil unions bill that will provide same sex couples all of the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities as married persons under Delaware law.


The bill now heads to Delaware Gov. Jack Markell to be signed into law after the House voted 26-15 in favor of the measure, SB 30. The state Senate voted 13-6 in favor of the bill last week.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell already stated that he plans to sign the bill.

"Today, we celebrate a victory for all Delaware families who will have the tools to protect themselves in good times and in bad," Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. "We look forward to Governor Markell signing this bill into law and thank Senator Sokola and Representative George for their leadership on this bill, and Equality Delaware for their tireless dedication."

The bill makes Delaware the eighth state to offer civil unions or domestic partnerships.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a group of conservative Christian lawyers, said it plans to fight the new law in court.

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed legislation last week that allows married same sex couples moving to Washington to have access to the state's domestic-partnership law.

"The more states that do this, the more credibility we have of getting the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) repealed, because the individual states are saying we recognize this, why don't you? So I think that's a big deal," Carol Ehrhart, President of the Inland Northwest LGBT Center, told KXLY.

The law grants the rights and protections given to registered domestic partnerships in Washington to same sex couples married outside of the state, but same sex marriages still are not legal.