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Gay Chicago Lawmaker Discusses Trip to Washington State to Marry Partner: VIDEO


Chicago City Alderman James Cappelman and his partner Richard have been together for more than two decades.  But after waiting anxiously for Illinois to legalize marriage equality, and in light of the disappointing stop-and-start progress of an equal marriage bill over the last year, the couple is heading to Washington state to tie the knot.  The Chicago Tribune has the story:

"We are going to go elsewhere," said Ald. James Cappleman, 46th. "It's kind of sad that a Chicago alderman, an elected official, has to leave his own state. But we'll keep fighting. There's a lot of people who want to get married."

Cappleman and Richard Thale, who met in church, have been together for 22 years. The plan to get married Nov. 22, surrounded by relatives who live out West. The couple already have a civil union in Illinois.

Cappleman is a social worker and longtime community activist in his first term. Thale is the courts advocate for the Town Hall Police District, a Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy beat facilitator and president of the Uptown Chicago Commission.

Cappleman said he first spilled the beans Tuesday night on CLTV's "Politics Tonight" show when asked what it was like to be an alderman and gay. He later posted his plans on Facebook.

The alderman told the Tribune his decision was based in large part on the Supreme Court's June decision invalidating Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.  "Should something happen to either one of us," he wrote in a Facebook post, "we didn't want to take the risk of losing those federal protections that other married couples already have."

Cappleman isn't the other city politician forced to travel outside Illinois to get married: his colleague Deb Mell wed her partner in Iowa.

LGBT advocates in Illinois are pursuing two parallel tracks in their quest for equal marriage rights in the state.  Legislators will seek to pass a marriage equality bill in the veto session this fall, and former state Republican party chair Pat Brady--who resigned after criticism from his own party for his support of same-sex couples' right to marry--is helping the ACLU of Illinois convince GOP lawmakers to back the legislation.

The other track towards marriage equality in Illinois is taking place in the courts.  Late last month, a state judge rejected motions to dismiss two court cases challenging the state's policy of providing only civil unions and not marriage to same-sex couples.  Lambda Legal and the ACLU, who are sponsoring the two cases, are now pressing forward to win a positive ruling from Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall that brings marriage equality to the Land of Lincoln.

You can watch Cappleman discuss his wedding in an appearance on Chicago's WGN9 News (warning: autoplay), AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Washington = Legal Marriage/ Legal Pot/ Free Speech/ Freedom of the Press. What more could one ask. Happy Marriage fellas.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Oct 14, 2013 6:45:22 PM

  2. His first statement makes him sound like an elitist. In this situation, the fact that he's an elected official is completely irrelevant because his position doesn't provide any power over passing/repealing gay marriage in Illinois.

    Still, I suppose any story like this is a good thing. Although, I think more minds will get changed by focusing on "regular" gay couples, not politicians.

    Posted by: melburke | Oct 14, 2013 7:29:41 PM

  3. Mid-American states like Illinois will eventually come around. It just takes them a little longer to get their minds around social changes. The Southern states, unfortunately, will take even longer.

    Posted by: Joe in Ct | Oct 14, 2013 8:34:11 PM

  4. looks like marriage won't be making it in the veto session.

    Posted by: candide001 | Oct 14, 2013 9:26:17 PM

  5. I live in James' ward in Chicago. He's doing a ton to turn around this part of the city--a lot of it behind the scenes and without credit. Hopefully Illinois will honor his marriage soon enough!

    Posted by: P | Oct 14, 2013 9:30:13 PM

  6. Last time I was in Chicago was shortly after Matt Sheppard was murdered.

    The Chicago fags at the time were for the most part disinterested in anything political, they just wanted to sit around in their bars and accepted their second-class status like it was something to be proud of.

    On the bright side, a nice man always was offering me crack every time I walked around Halstead. I politely declined.

    Posted by: Just Sayin | Oct 14, 2013 9:49:38 PM

  7. At this point I'm putting my hopes in the courts. The legislature doesn't have the political will to blow its nose, let alone pass a marriage bill.

    Posted by: Matt | Oct 14, 2013 10:51:41 PM

  8. We did the same thing - started with a Civil Union, but went to Washington state to be married. CU didn't cut it, which becomes quite apparent when you talk to just about anyone. My employer didn't get it; I had to do battle for benefits. There's no "Civil Union" box to check on the forms at doctors' offices. Federal Gov't doesn't recognize Civil Unions. And on, and on...

    Posted by: John | Oct 15, 2013 8:55:31 AM

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