Deborah Mell Hub

Lesbian Chicago Councilwoman Deborah Mell Announces Divorce


Though same-sex marriage just became legal in Illinois, one prominent same-sex couple in the Land of Lincoln is calling it quits. Deborah Mell, the first openly lesbian member of Chicago’s City Council, announced on Twitter last week that she and wife Christin Baker will be parting ways. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

"Dear Friends, It is with great sadness I tell you my marriage with Christin has ended. As you know divorce is painful, therefore we ask for privacy as we go through this process. Thank you for your continued support and understanding," Mell wrote on Twitter.  She could not be reached for comment, but the Chicago Sun-Times independently confirmed the news that the couple that had so publicly celebrated their love, were now splitting. […]

Mell married Baker, a onetime national director for the YMCA, in a ceremony in Iowa in 2011. Mell became the first high-profile elected official in Illinois to publicly enter into a same-sex marriage. In June, Baker took a position with Daxko Consulting, which is based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Mell was outspoken in Illinois’ fight for marriage equality and memorably announced her engagement to Baker on the Illinois House floor back in 2010. 

Marriage Equality Bill Introduced in Illinois

A marriage equality bill has been introduced in Illinois by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the Chicago Phoenix reports:

Harris“It marks the next step in our journey toward full marriage equality in our state,” Harris told Chicago Phoenix. “It’s not going to happen quickly, it’s not going to happen without a lot of hard work.”

Harris, however, said that the bill was introduced today due to deadlines for new legislation, and that he has always worked to achieve marriage equality. Harris, who is openly-gay, has devoted his career to it, he said.

“They call it a struggle for a reason,” Harris said. “We all have to keep calling our legislators, talk to our religious leaders and work hard to make this happen.”

If passed, the new law would amend the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act,  allowing the voluntary conversion of a civil union to a marriage.

IllinoisOut lesbian lawmakers Rep. Deborah Mell (40th District) and Rep. Kelly M. Cassidy (14th District) are co-sponsors of the bill.

Writes Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov in an email:

We commend these leaders for taking yet another step towards full equality for lesbian and gay families in Illinois, and we are grateful to them for their leadership. This is just the beginning: the road to marriage equality is sure to be long, but it is one that we must travel together.

In following experiences of thousands of couples in civil unions over the past year, we confirmed what we always suspected to be true: that creating a separate institution to provide substantially the same rights did not add up to full equality under the law. A pharmacist who denied prescription pick-up to the patient's civil union partner didn't think it's the same thing as marriage. A coroner who refused to issue a death certificate to civil union partner survivor did not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Tax preparers, estate planners, employers and employees do not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Separate is not equal. And we at Equality Illinois will not rest until gay and lesbian couples in every corner of the state - who are equal in love - are also equal in marriage.

Gay Illinois Lawmaker Deborah Mell Marries Partner in Iowa


Illinois State Rep. Deborah Mell married her partner in Iowa over the weekend, the Sun-Times reports:

Mell, 43, is the first high-profile elected official in the state to publicly enter into a same-sex marriage.

But she had to go to Iowa to do it. It’s one of only six states plus the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal. A judge in Davenport performed their civil ceremony last Wednesday.

Mell’s wife of one week is Christin Baker, 36, a national director for the YMCA. They dated for seven years.

“Our relationship deserves marriage,” said a beaming Mell, her newly wedding-banded hand resting on Baker’s shoulder Tuesday. “That’s how I feel about it. I mean 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. . . . We deserve those titles, those rights.”

Mell told journalist Carol Marin that she would marry in Iowa last April, just before taking the announcement of her engagement to the Illinois House floor.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a civil union bill into law there on January 31 of this year, but Mell has repeatedly stated her opposition to anything but full marriage rights.

Watch Mell's speech to the House, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Illinois Lawmaker Deborah Mell Marries Partner in Iowa" »

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to Sign Civil Union Bill This Afternoon


Governor Pat Quinn will sign the Illinois civil unions bill at a ceremony this afternoon. Yesterday State Rep. Deb Mell, who you may recall gave a passionate speech on the House floor during which she announced her engagement, stopped in a t WGN to talk about the historic signing.


Quinn's office has been publicizing the signing for a week and expects at least 1,000 people to turn out at the Chicago Cultural Center at 4 pm.

Continue reading "Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to Sign Civil Union Bill This Afternoon" »

Watch: Rep. Deb Mell Announces Engagement on Illinois House Floor


Yesterday I posted that Illinois Rep. Deb Mell would be announcing her engagement to her partner Christin Baker on the floor of the Illinois House. She did so.

Dmell The Chicago Tribune reports:

"Mell, the daughter of Ald. Richard Mell, 33rd, and sister of former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich, put a spotlight on her personal life Wednesday in an effort to start changing the minds of her legislative colleagues. Joined by her partner of six years, Christin Baker, Mell said she likely will go to Iowa to state her vows. 'I am aware that our governor and many of you on both sides of the aisle do not consider me equal to you and our relationship equal to the relationship you share with your spouse,' Mell, a Chicago Democrat, told her colleagues Wednesday. 'I think we are more alike than we are different.' Legislation to legalize civil unions passed a House committee nearly a year ago, but the sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said he's still trying to muster the 60 votes needed to send it to the Senate. Illinois has been slow in approving gay rights measures — it took more than 30 years to win approval of a law outlawing discrimination against gays and lesbians by landlords, real estate agents, employers and lenders. Then- Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Mell's brother-in-law, signed that bill in 2005."

Only one Republican, Rep. Mark Beaubien, stood and applauded to acknowledge Mell's engagement.


Continue reading "Watch: Rep. Deb Mell Announces Engagement on Illinois House Floor" »

Illinois State Rep. Deborah Mell Announces Engagement, Will Take Marriage Equality Issue to House Chamber Today


On Chicago's WTTW last night, Illinois State Rep. Deborah Mell (D-Chicago) announced her engagement to her longtime partner Christin Baker. She also said she planned to make a big deal out of it on the House floor today and will ask for a "point of personal privilege" from Speaker Michael Madigan to discuss it, raising the issue of marriage equality with other lawmakers.

Same-sex marriage is prohibited in Illinois. Mell and Baker plan to travel to Iowa to marry.

NBC reports: "The couple said they intend to travel to Iowa in the fall of 2011 to marry. Iowa is one of five states, along with the District of Columbia, that allows same sex marriages. Illinois lawmakers made the practice illegal in 1996. Mell represents Illinois' 40th District and is the daughter of Chicago Ald. Dick Mell, sister to Patti Blagojevich and sister-in-law to the impeached and indicted former Governor Rod Blagojevich. Tueday marks the first anniversary of an Iowa Supreme Court decision allowing for same-sex marriages."

Watch Mell and Baker make the announcement to WTTW's Carol Marin, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Illinois State Rep. Deborah Mell Announces Engagement, Will Take Marriage Equality Issue to House Chamber Today" »


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