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Delaware Legislature Passes Equal Rights Amendment Bill

January 24, 2019

Recently, Delaware’s 150th General Assembly passed House Bill No. 1, amending Article I of the Delaware Constitution to provide equal rights on the basis of sex. This amendment provides that the Constitution shall state: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex.”

The bill also contains a statement of purpose, clarifying that the amendment, which is placed in Delaware’s Bill of Rights, only applies to the State of Delaware and its political subdivisions, and does not apply to private entities. Further, the statement of purpose specifically states that while the State of Delaware may not impair a person’s opportunity to exercise his or her rights, the state is not required to fund the exercise of those rights. Finally, the amendment recognizes that there are limited circumstances where the state may support permissible single-sex services and programming, such as for privacy concerns.

This was the second and final vote necessary in order for the bill to become law, as the Legislature passed an identical bill during the last General Assembly. In Delaware, constitutional amendments must pass in two consecutive legislative years and do not require the governor’s approval.

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