Out-Of-State Gay Couples Flock To DE In First 6 Months Of Law - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Out-Of-State Gay Couples Flock To DE In First 6 Months Of Law

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REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - On New Year's Day, Chris Beagle and Eric Engelhart, known by friends as the Beagleharts, reminisce about the year that was.

"It feels so gratifying to say this is my husband and it's been a huge step for us," said Engelhart.

In July, they became the first Sussex County same-sex couple to convert via ceremony from civil union to marriage.

Beagle says even after the marriage, their life has gone on like the 23 years before, only now with legal protection.

But the married men are far from alone. In fact, just in Sussex County, 855 couples tied the knot.

More than half from out-of-state.

Clerk of the peace John Brady tells WMDT couples have traveled from as far south as Texas through Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Not only will his department make budget for the first time since 1950 due to the increase in marriages, Sussex County is becoming a marriage destination hotspot, says Brady.

Some couples are also already planning extended honeymoon stays.

"One couple are coming back to spend a weekend in February as their honeymoon because they thought everybody was so nice in Fenwick," said Brady. "Every wedding that happens in Sussex County has an economic benefit to the county.

"[Couples] will get a hotel room, eat dinner, eat breakfast. They always forget something so they will go to the store."

Brady says one couple spent as much as $4,000 during their wedding weekend, which included a home rental in Dewey Beach.

While both Chris and Eric agree Delaware has thrived with the new law, Chris says more states need marriage equality.

"Every civil rights movement in this nation's history has not happened overnight," said Beagle. "There will always be issues but we think it's about being involved being respectful being patient and getting it done."

Chris and Eric have been together for 23 years.
     *one-hundred twenty-nine* military couples got married in Delaware this past year which is a significant increase -- 90 of those were same-sex marriages.

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