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

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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Patrick Boylan

About Patrick Boylan

Patrick grew up near LaFollette Park on the West Side. He contends that the very best Italian beef sandwiches are made on the West Side and has a strange love of the flat pizza from that part of the city. Patrick led The Bulldog to win seven journalism awards in 2011, including four awards to Patrick as a solo or a team member. He is very proud of The Dog's coverage of politics and schools in the neighborhood. Patrick wrote for the Times of Northwest Indiana as a stringer covering Cook County Government, for the Chicago Tribune as a stringer on the Chicago Wolves and for ChicagoNow as a writer before starting The Dog. He wrote for four years for ChiTownDailyNews.org as a media commentator and spent about 20 years in operations at city newspapers, including nine years as owner of his own distribution company. Prior to that he spent about nine years in public relations. Patrick has a Masters degree from the University of Colorado. He attended Eastern Illinois University for undergrad and Weber High School and St. Peter Canisius grammar school. The two-flat he owns was built in 1912 and has never been featured, to his knowledge, in any major motion pictures despite having a way-cool garden. Patrick purchased the property in 1994 and "couldn't afford to buy it now." His daughter is a college student in California. He lives in the house with his wife, Jane, and two cats who often sit in on his phone interviews.

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