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SB34 – Repealing Discriminatory Laws regarding Public Accommodations

Senate Bill 34 will finally repeal some shameful discriminatory laws that somehow have remained in the Delaware Code for centuries despite previous attempts to repeal them.

On March 1, 1875, the federal Civil Rights Act was enacted. Following the end of the Civil War and the adoption of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, the goal of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was to guarantee Blacks equal treatment in places of public accommodation and on public transportation.

On March 25, 1875, the General Assembly enacted Chapter 194 of Volume 15 of the Laws of Delaware to permit places of public accommodation and public transportation to exclude individuals “whose presence there would be offensive to the major part of the proprietor’s customers and thereby injure the proprietor’s business”. Newspaper reports from the time indicate that this law was specifically designed to “neutralize the effects of” the Civil Rights Act of 1875.

Almost 100 years later, in December 1963, the 122nd General Assembly enacted the Delaware Equal Accommodations Law, Chapter 45 of Title 6 of the Delaware Code, to prevent in places of public accommodations practices of discrimination against any person because of race, creed, color, or national origin. As part of this legislation, the 122nd General Assembly provided that “§ 1501 of Title 24, § 902 of Title 28, and § 703 of Title 26 of the Delaware Code of 1953, and all laws or parts of laws inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed insofar as such inconsistency does occur.”

Despite the General Assembly’s intent, these provisions were not repealed at the time and, with the exception of § 703 of Title 26, which was repealed in 1974 with the rest of Chapter 7 of Title 26 as part of reorganization of Title 26, have continued to persist to this day. This Act explicitly repeals § 1501 of Title 24 and § 902 of Title 28, fulfilling the intent of the 122nd General Assembly that § 1501 of Title 24 and § 902 of Title 28 be repealed as inconsistent with the purposes of the Delaware Equal Accommodations Law that General Assembly adopted.

This Act also serves to repudiate the State’s past involvement in racial discrimination that occurred in reliance on and under color of laws adopted by this State. It’s shameful that no Republican has signed on as sponsor of this bill.

Senate Bill 34 – Repealing Discriminatory Laws regarding Public AccommodationsCurrrent Status – Senate Legislative Oversight & Sunset 1/25/23
House SponsorsJohnson Baumbach Bolden Lynn Morrison Romer WilliamsSenate SponsorsLockman Pinkney Gay Hansen Hoffner McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend
House Yes VotesSenate Yes Votes
House No VotesSenate No Votes
House Absents or Not VotingSenate Absent or Not Voting

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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