Delaware Vote Tracker

Definitions Bill Faces some Republican Opposition

Sponsored by Rep. Kendra Johnson, House Bill 155 would revise the definitions of “sexual orientation,” “gender identity” and “disability” throughout several sections of the Delaware Code to be consistent and to make the terms more inclusive.

Sexual orientation was defined in the state’s non-discrimination laws in 2009 as “exclusively means heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.” HB 155 would remove “exclusively means” from the various sections of code and replace the phrase with “includes” to be more inclusive regarding how sexual orientation is defined.

HB 155 also would remove from code part of the 2013 definition of gender identity, deleting a requirement that one’s identity be “demonstrated by consistent and uniform assertion of the gender identity,” that it is “sincerely held as part of a person’s core identity,” and that it could not be “asserted for any improper purpose.”

The bill also would amend the non-discrimination laws to update the definition of disability, making it consistent throughout the Delaware Code.

Four Republicans think this is just beyond the pale, and voted no. Those Republicans are Rich Collins, Shannon Morris, Charles Postles and Jesse Vanderwende. These Republicans are the Hardcore Four.

HB 155 heads to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 155 Sponsors Yes VotesNo Votes
K.Johnson, Baumbach, Griffith, Morrison, OsienskiHouse Passed 36-4-1. Baumbach, Bennett, Bentz, Bolden, Brady, Bush, Carson, Chukwuocha, Cooke, Dorsey Walker, Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Briggs King D.Short Hensley M.Smith Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman YearickCollins, Morris, Postles, Vanderwende, Gray (Absent)
Gay, Pinkney
Current Status — Senate Elections & Government Affairs 4/29/21

“Our code is a living, breathing document that needs to grow and evolve with the times. What was written and considered accurate or acceptable years ago might not be so today,” said Rep. Johnson. “Our laws should reflect the world in which we live today, and strive to be more inclusive and accepting. That is what we are doing with HB 155; we are making sure our laws are updated for 2021 and acknowledge the reality of our society.”

“Delawareans should not have to prove that their core identity is not asserted for an improper purpose,” said Sen. Kyle Evans Gay. “Casting doubt on an individual’s gender identity is never acceptable. Legal definitions used to describe our fellow Delawareans should be updated to reflect our values and made consistent across every section of our laws.” 

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