In 2009, then-Gov. Jack Markell signed into law a measure that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Ten years later to the day, July 2, a few dozen folks gathered at the Rehoboth Beach Museum to celebrate the anniversary.
Murray Archibald, CAMP Rehoboth co-founder, said CAMP Rehoboth had only just built its community center, and former Gov. Jack Markell signing the bill in the new space was its first big event.
Looking to Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth, who was standing behind Markell at the bill signing and was also at the recent event, Archibald said it took a long time for the law to be passed. He estimated an 11-year struggle.
“A long time,” confirmed Schwartzkopf, from the back of the room.
Steve Elkins, co-founder and former executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, played a major role in the passage of the law. Elkins died in March 2018 from lymphoma. The date, July 2, is also Elkins’ birthday.
Archibald, Elkins’ partner of 40 years, read a passage from Elkins’ Letters from CAMP Rehoboth column written shortly after the law was signed.
It was a thrilling event, wrote Elkins. “It was an awesome moment for all of us, filled with cheers and tears,” he said.
Nancy Alexander, Rehoboth Museum director, spoke briefly. She said as part of the museum’s nine-month renovation process, all parts of Rehoboth’s history were embraced – including CAMP Rehoboth’s legacy. She and Murray addressed the crowd standing in front of the museum’s exhibit about CAMP Rehoboth, which includes the rainbow-colored shovel from its groundbreaking.
Murray said there are still states where discrimination because of sexual orientation has not been outlawed, so the work is not done. Still, on the 10th anniversary of the measure, he said, he is proud of Delaware for passing the law.