Rep. Deb Mell: ‘You can’t legislate who you love’
Rep. Deb Mell, a state legislator in Illinois (and, full disclosure, a friend of my partner) said Tuesday on a local Chicago TV news show that she would be announcing her engagement to her partner Christin Baker on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives.
Mell and Baker were engaged April 10; but at the moment, they would not be able to marry in Illinois.
“I want to spend the rest of my life with her, and I want to get married in Illinois,” Mell said on Chicago Tonight on Tuesday evening. “I mean, we could go to Iowa and Iowa’s great… I went to school in Iowa. But you know what? It’s not the state where I represent, and it’s not the state where I grew up in.”
She plans to tell her fellow legislators, “That you can’t legislate who you love and can’t punish people for it,” she said. “That we are a regular couple, pay taxes, own a home, have a great belief in God.”
Wrote Carol Marin, a local legend among Chicago journalists, in the Chicago Sun-Times :
“What will make this moment historic in the annals of Illinois politics is that Mell’s fiancee, Christin Baker, is a woman.
“Unlike only five states, Illinois has never come close to approving civil unions, much less same-sex marriage.
“Bills to change that are buried in committee with no prayer of being passed this session. They wouldn’t even if this weren’t an election year.”
Marin noted that Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn his Republican rival Sen. Bill Brady are both opposed to same-sex marriage (as is former Illinois legislator Barack Obama).
Mell said that she hopes to start a conversation in Illinois about gay marriage – but most likely, she and Baker will be marrying in Iowa in 2011.
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