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Democratic Delaware lawmaker wants to make 93-year-old state song 'gender-neutral
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Democratic Delaware lawmaker wants to make 93-year-old state song 'gender-neutral

State Rep. Gerald Brady (D-Wilmington) introduced a bill this week designed to make Delaware's 93-year-old state song — "Our Delaware" — more inclusive.

What are the details?

The News Journal reported Wednesday that Brady's bill — HB 304 — would replace the song's two male pronouns with what Brady considers more "gender-neutral language."

"Social mores have changed and these simple modifications are a response to that," Brady explained. "We are constantly adapting, amending and modifying things to contemporary circumstances as society changes."

"That's the beauty of democracy," he added.

Brady said that he was inspired to sponsor the bill after Donn Devine, an 88-year-old resident of Brady's district who has a co-writing credit on the song, suggested a change to the song.

A portion of the bill reads:

This Act substitutes gender neutral phrases for the ones currently contained in the State Song of Delaware. The proposed changes come at the request of Donn Devine, a retired Brigadier General in the Delaware National Guard and co-author of the State Song of Delaware, who believes that this new phrasing will make the song more relevant to future generations of Delawareans.

Devine penned the song's fourth and final verse after winning a governor's office-sponsored contest.

The verse was officially added to the state song in the late 1950s.

What does the co-writer of the song want?

According to The News Journal, however, Devine is far less concerned with being politically correct than he is with getting to the bottom of why the state song is so rarely sung nowadays.

"I thought one reason might be that third-grade girls singing about being 'a loyal son' just didn't fit anymore," Devine explained.

Devine suggested that a line in the song's third verse that reads, "Here's the loyal son that pledges/Faith to good old Delaware" be changed to "Here's the loyal pledge we offer/Faith to the good old Delaware."

However, Brady's bill proposes that the wording is changed from "loyal son" to "loyal one," and altogether omits the word "his" from another verse, according to The News Journal.

The News Journal reported that when Devine saw the language in the bill, he requested that his name be removed from the proposed legislation.

"I wanted to make it gender-neutral but it should sound like natural language," Devine said. "Those changes sound very artificial to me."

Devine later changed his mind after Brady said he would introduce an amendment to change the proposed verbiage to match what Devine had initially proposed.

"I'm glad we got that settled," Brady said of the back-and-forth over the proposed language. "I don't think 'Our Delaware' was ever a Top 40 hit, but the goal here is to help Mr. Devine make the song relevant again. Even if it is a relic, it needs to be something that has a connection to the past and the present."

You can read the current lyrics to 'Our Delaware' in their entirety here and listen to it below.

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