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Openly Gay Illinois State Rep. Deborah Mell Legally Married in Iowa

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Christin Baker and State Rep. Deborah Mell | Photo by Brian Jackson - Chicago Sun-Times

Last week, out lesbian State Rep. Deborah Mell (D-Chicago) legally married her wife, Christin Baker, in Iowa. The civil ceremony took place in Davenport last Wednesday, and the couple is planning a blessing ceremony of their marriage for next week. In Illinois, Mell is the first openly gay, high-profile elected official to be legally married. Of their decision to marry, Mell said, “There was a time in our relationship where it just wasn’t right to call Christin my ‘partner’ or my ‘friend’ . . . or even my ‘civil-unionized partner.’ You know she’s my wife.”

In January of this year, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill granting civil unions to same-sex partners. However, marriage for lesbian and gay couples is still not recognized by the state. Though Mell and Baker were legally married in Iowa, their marriage is seen as a civil union in their home state. And despite poll data showing that a growing majority of Americans support marriage equality, the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” continues to deny full protections to lesbian and gay couples.  In the meantime, Mell and Baker have the support of family and friends. Speaking with the Chicago Sun-Times about her marriage, Mell said, “My whole family is just really thrilled…Everyone is just really thrilled for us.”