The Unitarian Universalist Society of Mill Creek held a special luncheon at their church to thank Sen. David Sokola (D-Beech Hill), Rep. Michael Ramone (R-Middle Run Valley) and others who were instrumental in the passing of a bill for civil unions in Delaware.


The Unitarian Universalist Society of Mill Creek held a special luncheon at their church to thank Sen. David Sokola (D-Beech Hill), Rep. Michael Ramone (R-Middle Run Valley) and others who were instrumental in the passing of a bill for civil unions in Delaware.

“We clearly had an injustice,” Sokola said before a crowd of 40 people, a mix of straight and homosexual couples at Sunday's luncheon. “When we did the civil union’s bill, we set forth another ripple of hope. Before long, hopefully, we’ll have a tidal wave and we’ll be able to get true justice for all here in Delaware and in the United States of America.”

Sokola’s speech received warm smiles and cheers from guests.

Ramone thanked his wife, Lisa, for supporting him as he pushed to have the bill passed, since he was feeling “pressure from a lot of people.”

“Unfortunately, 10 years ago, this would have been unheard of,” Ramone said of passing a civil union’s bill in Delaware. “And very fortunately, in 10 years, this won’t be such a big deal.” 

The bill takes effect Jan. 1, 2012 and couples in a civil union would have the same protections, rights and obligations as a married couple, such as hospital visitation rights, property and last will and testament transfers, the ability to live together in nursing homes, joint adoption and other legal issues.

 

UUSMC Music Director Kristen Tosh-Morelli, who plans to have a civil union ceremony with her partner Vicky Tosh-Morelli, said it’s “really cool” that the bill was passed.

“I was shocked that it went through so quickly,” said Kristen, who is an elementary band teacher for the Red Clay School District.

Of the benefits in the bill, Kristen said she looks forward to being able to cover Vicky with her state and healthcare benefits.

Lesbian couple Deb Cohen and her partner Terry Griffin, who both reside in Pike Creek, said it will be a benefit to no longer be considered “criminals.”

“Right now we are criminals because [Cohen and I] got married in Massachusetts and it’s explicitly encoded in Delaware’s marriage code that, that is illegal,” Griffin said. “This civil union bill will remove that from the code.”  

UUSMC Professional Interim Minister Larry Smith acknowledged that the Unitarian church accepts homosexuality because their philosophy is to honor “the inherent birth and dignity of every person,” Smith said.

Historically, the religion has its roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions, while drawing its teachings from several religious sources including Hinduism.

Smith said the UUSMC is a place where the homosexual community can find peace.

“Unitarian Universalist congregations are havens for groups of people who might not be accepted in other places,” Smith said. “It’s certainly true for our openly gay and lesbian members.” 

Matt Nolan of West Grove, Pa., has been a member of UUSMC for five years. Nolan was compelled to become a Unitarian Universalist because, historically, he knows the religion has always supported equality, especially during the civil rights movement.    

“One of the things that attracted me to this particular church, this particular religion, is that this religion has always stood on the side of justice,” he said.