A wedding day is special enough, and it is made even more significant when the couple has been together for 35 years and has had to wait nearly that long to get married, but for Murray Archibald and Steve Elkins, founders of CAMP Rehoboth, the icing on the cake was more than just a confection.
On Oct. 26, in the midst of their wedding reception, Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, on behalf of Gov. Jack Markell, presented the two with the Order of the First State, the highest honor for meritorious service granted by the governor of Delaware.
“These are two of the most public-service-minded people I’ve ever met,” said Schwartzkopf. “They are very special people who like to help other people without wanting any of the fanfare. When I asked Governor Markell about giving them the Order of the First State, he said: 'When do you need it?' There was not even the blink of an eye. He realizes how much these guys mean to the LGBT community and the community in general.”
As it states on the certificate, Markell decided to give Archibald and Elkins the award “To bear witness to their outstanding Efforts, Knowledge, Integrity, Prudence and Ability as displayed by the Evidence of their Accomplishments. Their consistent dedication to Excellence in serving their Community and their State is to be lauded.
“Steve and Murray are heroes in our community. Rehoboth Beach, and the State of Delaware generally, are known for being inclusive and accepting for people of all backgrounds. This is due in large part to the work of Steve and Murray, who have dedicated their lives to building the shared community spirit we all enjoy today; a community in which all are welcome. We are lucky to have them in ours, and I am proud that our governor recognized their important contributions to our state by awarding them the Order of the First State, the state’s highest honor,” said Mark Purpura, president of the Equality Delaware Foundation.
Elkins and Archibald had this to say: "We are incredibly honored to be recognized for the work we have done through CAMP Rehoboth and in our community, and we’re grateful for the support that has always come from Governor Markell and Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn. To have it presented to us when all our family was gathered to celebrate our wedding made it an especially memorable and meaningful occasion.”
The idea for CAMP Rehoboth began in 1991. Archibald and Elkins wished there could be a focus - a place people could come for information about the community. They thought there should be a way of reaching out for understanding and cooperation between members of the gay and lesbian community and the local merchants, government, police and fire officials, year-round and summer residents, and anyone else calling Rehoboth home.
“Our goal was to work with the entire community,” says Elkins. “After all, if we were isolated and that led to divisions in the community, we wouldn’t really be a living representation of what the rainbow means.” The result of their efforts is CAMP Rehoboth, an organization committed to celebrating diversity, building a strong sense of community, and “Creating a More Positive” environment for all people in Rehoboth Beach.
CAMP Rehoboth is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides a wide range of community services, programs, and events in the Rehoboth Beach area. For more information call 302-227-5620 or go to www.camprehoboth.com.