NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gay marriage in Delaware is inevitable, the state's Governor Jack Markell said on Friday, a day after neighboring Maryland became the eighth state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.
In an interview with Reuters Insider TV, Markell, a Democrat, said he expects that Delaware will take up same-sex marriage legislation "probably within the next few years."
Delaware began allowing civil unions -- an institution set up to give the same rights as civil marriage, while reserving marriage for heterosexual couples -- last year.
Markell noted that until three years ago it was legal in Delaware "to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation," and said the state was moving towards greater acceptance of homosexuality.
"I think it's inevitable," he said of gay marriage.
Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York and the District of Columbia currently allow same-sex nuptials. Earlier this year, the New Jersey state legislature voted to allow gay marriage, but the measure was vetoed by Republican Governor Chris Christie.
Washington state will join the list of states with same-sex marriage in June unless opponents stop it ahead of a possible ballot initiative, and Maryland will be added in January 2013 unless its law, too, is overturned by a threatened referendum in November.
(Reporting by Fred Katayama and Edith Honan; Additional reporting by Alice Popovici; editing by Dan Burns)