Illinois Rep. Deborah Mell Announces Gay Engagement to House
Illinois lawmaker Deborah Mell is engaged to be married to her lesbian partner, but must marry in Iowa
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Mell rose on the Illinois House floor Wednesday to announce her engagement and say she looks forward to the day when same-sex couples can marry in Illinois.
In the state of Illinois, a 1996 law specifically defines marriage as applying only to "one man , one woman". The state prohibits civil unions for same-sex couples, and recent efforts to begin offering civil unions have failed.
Lawmakers applauded Representative Mell's announcement in the House chamber, and several stood to congratulate the 41-year-old, who is now engaged to her long time partner.
"More alike than different"
"I am aware that our governor and many of you on both sides of the aisle do not consider me equal to you and our relationship equal to the relationship you share with your spouse," Mell said, her voice quavering at times. "I think we are more alike than we are different."
Rep. Will Burns (D-Chicago) pointed out that it was not so long ago in our nation, that interracial couples were viewed as unnatural.
Rep. Mark Beaubien (R-Barrington Hills), was the only GOP member to stand and congratulate Mell. He grew emotional while offering his support to same-sex marriage and Mell. He stated that his view is that adults may "live their own life, and speak their own truth".
However, Rep. Harry Ramey (R-Carol Stream), who was not present when Mell made her announcement, said he opposed same-sex marriage and to civil unions as well.
Thus far, the Illinois state House has not voted on a measure recognizing civil unions. And in the Senate, a measure to legalize same-sex marriages remains at the committee level. No changes are likely this year.
Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), the Republican gubernatorial candidate, introduced a proposed constitutional amendment this spring to explicitly ban same-sex marriages in the state of Illinois. That initiative remains at an impasse.
Quinn said he would like to see Illinois recognize civil unions. But Mell indicated that was not enough, voicing what many gay advocates believe: That this makes their union second rate, as opposed to marriage, which is universally recognized.