UPDATED. Baker: I’m done waiting; Mell to marry partner of 5 years

April 28, 2010
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State Legislator Deborah Mell and Christen Baker show off their engagement rings on WTTW. The couple plans to marry in Iowa in fall 2011.

State Legislator Deborah Mell and Christen Baker show off their engagement rings on WTTW. The couple plans to marry in Iowa in fall 2011.

It was probably among the most unusual places to make a wedding announcement: WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. The couple, the scion of a troubled local political family and her bride, smiled nervously as the show got rolling.

And it was the relatively unknown bride, Christin Baker, who looked straight into the camera and smiled, before glancing at her bride, Deborah Mell.

Mell, the state legislator for the Ravenswood Manor neighborhood, and Baker choose to make their public announcement on Chicago Tonight in an effort to jump start the Illinois Equality Movement. “She is now my fiancee,” Mel told Carol Marin.

Mell and Baker will be married in Iowa in fall 2011, they said, as Illinois does not recognize gay marriage. The couple considered a number of factors in setting the date including a full family calendar and the upcoming trial of Mell’s brother-in-law, former governor Rod R Blagojevich.

Mell asked for a point of personal privilege to note the marriage in front of the Illinois General Assembly today. “I thought it would spark conversation,” Mell said, “I want to talk about Kristen. I want to get married in Illinois.”

Mixing talk of politics and personal plans, Mell said she was not worried, though she looked concerned as Marin listed opponents to gay marriage, including Mell’s brother-in-law, former governor Rod R Blagojevich.

“I hope they see us as a regular couple,” Mell said. “I want them to see us as a regular couple.”

“We’re not to be feared,” Baker said. “It is the gay community that is showing the sanctity of marriage by wanting to be married.”

“I just want to be married one time,” Baker said. “If I call her my partner or my girlfriend it is taken lightly. If I call her my wife people recognize that as THE commitment: I want to be with you forever.”

Mell said her relationship with Baker had been developing over five years. Mell compared gay marriage efforts to women’s suffrage. Mell hopes for a tipping point to be reached.

Mell dismissed anticipated criticism of the couple going to Iowa to be married. Baker saying “hopefully it raises the Illinois (issue) if we go next door. Another two years, three years, four years can go by (without action). I’ve been waiting for five years. I’m done.”

WTTW has posted the video. Please watch it here:

Here is the video of Rep. Mell announcing her engagement to Ms. Baker from the floor of the State House:

House members rise to congratulate Rep. Mell and Ms. Baker.

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