Delaware anti-discrimination bill faces winger hurdles

The good news — Delaware’s legislature is considering legislation that would bar discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, public accommodations, insurance and employment. It’s also a state that has not seen any traction in terms of any bill that would amend its Constitution to define marriage as only between and man and a woman.

The bad news — the anti-discrimination bill has been killed several times and there are a heck of a lot of homophobes willing to go on the record with outlandish comments defending their bigotry.

Rep. Gerald W. Hocker, R-Ocean View, expressed opposition to the bill before winning his 38th District seat in 2002. He stands by his opinion that the bill is special legislation and, as such, is not needed. He says he sees no signs of discrimination against gay people.

We all have equal rights and we don’t need any special-rights bill,” he said. “To be honest with you, I’m a great believer that all people are treated equally now. I just don’t see the need for it.”

On its Web site, the Delaware Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that pushes traditional family values and has been active in the fight against the nondiscrimination bills, links such legislation to the AIDS epidemic.

The bill is not about discrimination,” the organization says. “It is about gay activists wanting to force approval of a behavior that kills its participants.”

Overall, activists are more optimistic about the bill this time around, but aren’t sure that the Senate will move it just yet.

One of the bill’s supporters, Mitch Crane of Milford, vice president for political action with The Delaware Stonewall Democratic Club, said his organization had requested a meeting with the Senate’s Adams, but had received no reply. The club is an affiliate of a national organization pressing for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

“All we ask is that [the Senate] have a right to vote it up or down,” Crane said.

“We think it should be embarrassing to Democrats that the Republican-controlled House will consider and act on such legislation and the Democrat-controlled Senate won’t consider it and bring it to the floor,” Crane said. “We hope that will change.”

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