Sen. Karen Peterson’s Gay Marriage Speech
Party lines, civil rights city buses and gay marriage alike have elicited some colorful remarks from Delaware’s political leaders.
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Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
A generation earlier during the civil rights movement, the Senate considered a proposal to end discrimination in housing.
Two state senators—one a Democrat and one a Republican, one black and one white—pleaded with their colleagues to let all people, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity, buy or rent a home wherever they chose.
It was 1967. Herman Holloway Sr., a black Democratic senator from Wilmington, and Louise Conner, a white Republican senator from Brandywine Hundred, knew they needed one more Democratic vote and one more Republican vote, or their legislation would fail.
Holloway had already given an acclaimed speech about open housing two years earlier.
“I feel confident that someday Negroes will enjoy the rights to which they are entitled,” he said then. “But I sometimes wonder what is really meant by ‘all men are created equal.’ I sometimes question this, and when I look at the American flag and see the red stripes, they remind us of the Negroes and whites who have died defending this country.
“And while there is discrimination in housing in Delaware, I am reminded that in military cemeteries, where Negro and white soldiers are buried, there is integration.”
Now, with the vote deadlocked, Holloway continued, and wept as he spoke.
“It’s a bill I believe in. I see a chance to remedy some of the suffering that humanity has placed on my people. I thought we could persuade one more vote on my side of the aisle, but apparently we can’t. I thought we could persuade one more Republican, but apparently we can’t.”
Conner tried, too, saying, “Of what are we afraid, my fellow Delawareans? Why must we be afraid of each other?”
The other senators did not budge. The bill failed that day, but Holloway and Conner did not give up. They rounded up the votes by 1969, and open housing became the law.
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