State Rep. Marries Same-Sex Partner in Iowa - NBC Chicago

State Rep. Marries Same-Sex Partner in Iowa



    Rep. Deborah Mell and her partner of seven years, Christin Baker, married last week in Davenport. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011)

    They said "I do" in Davenport. They'll have their union blessed in Chicago. And then it's off to Paris for a honeymoon.

    State Representative Deborah Mell last week made Illinois history becoming the first state lawmaker to wed a same-sex partner. Mell and Christin Baker were legally wed in a ceremony performed by a judge in Davenport, Iowa on Aug. 24.

    Iowa is one of six states, along with the District of Columbia that recognizes same-sex marriage.

    Mell is the daughter of Ald. Dick Mell (33rd) and the sister-in-law of former Gov Rod Blagojevich.

    While Iowa recognizes same sex marriage, Illinois does not.

    "We got married in Iowa and then we like crossed the state line and we are not married here in Illinois," said Mell, who was instrumental in getting a bill passed last year recognizing civil unions in Illinois.

    "Our relationship deserves marriage," she said in describing the trip to Iowa. "You know she’s my wife now and that is the heaviness that is deserved us because we’ve been through some stuff and we’ve worked it out.”

    The couple met seven years ago but it wasn’t love at first sight.

    "No it wasn't honey," said Baker, laughing and looking at Mell. "And it wasn’t for you either, so don’t even lie and pretend that it was."

    Baker, 36, is the national Arts and Humanities Director for the YMCA.

    Next week,  they will gather with family and friends at their north side church to bless their union.

    Baker’s ring belonged to Mell's late mother, Marge.

    In May, for the first time ever, the Gallup poll reported that a majority of Americans believe that same sex-marriage should be the law of the land. Back in 1996, that figure was 27 percent. Today the number is 53 percent.

    Those supporting it include younger people, Democrats and Independents. Those opposing it: Republicans, older people, as well as a member of Christin Baker’s family and a close family friend.

    "In my most accepting family there are still those folks who feel the need to write us and let us know we are sinning," said Baker, acknowledging it impacted her more than she was prepared.

    For Mell’s family, the wedding bridges the corruption conviction of Rod Blagojevich and his sentencing in early October.

    "I know Patty is happy for us," she said, referring to her sister. "Rod is really happy to be there and be a part of it." 

    The Blagojevich daughters, Amy and Annie, will take part in the blessing.

    After that, they'll jet to Paris for a honeymoon.

    "I’m just so hopeful right now," said Mell. "I think there will probably be some backlash going on but I think we are on a great path right now."