Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Marriage Equality Comes to Illinois

From Anthony I had been watching the House of Representatives go back and forth all day on Bills, but when it came to the Marriage Equality Bill, I was pretty much glued to the computer screen, listening to what everyone was saying. There were many heartfelt words said, some that made you tear up, some that made you smile, some that made you say “thank you” to the Rep saying the words. In the end, when they said, “Now it is time to vote”, and they the tally board came on the screen and I saw 61 in GREEN and 54 RED, I jumped out of my chair with excitement and then the water works started… tears of joy of course!

Over the past 12 years I have been in the event planning world, I have seen many things. I have countless funny stories, have seen some unbelievable things happen, and have seen how when people come together, they can make mountains move! One of the things I was not sure that I would ever see would be what happened yesterday, the right to marry my partner legally. I remember, back in the early 2000’s we were calling them Commitment Ceremonies and we were not sure if we could call them a wedding. Even as a gay man, working with gay couples, we were not sure what to call the event. Then, we finally had a legal word, Civil Union. And that worked for a while, but that really was not enough. Because of the passing of the Marriage Equality Bill, LGBTQ couples now have the right to be married, the right to the same rights as all married couples, but we also have the language to use to describe ourselves.

Words are powerful. They are our tools in communicating with one another and understanding one another. Now, that a young gay man or a young gay woman can say, when I grow up, I want to get married, have a family, a house, and grow old together, they can say that. And that thought and dream and wish, can come true. We can now have the life we dreamed because legally we can and we have the words to articulate what we want. There is no confusion anymore, there is no hiding anymore, everyone can be married, gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, queer, transgender, we can all be married.

There are so many people to be thankful for this movement. From the Human Rights Campaign, to the NOH8 Group, Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal, the local LGBTQ community members who fought for this legislation. All of those who marched in Springfield a few weeks ago, to everyone in between going back to those who stood up against the police at Stonewall in New York City in 1969.

I am thankful for my friends and family who are not afraid to be who they are. For all of the men and women who long ago came out to their families, paving the way to make it easier for each generation to come out. To folks like Ellen DeGeneres, the creators, actors and crew of ‘Will and Grace’, ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’, ‘Queer as Folk’, ‘The L Word’ and ‘Bravo’. These are some of the projects and stations that gave us a voice on TV and gave us role models. I know that without some of these role models, I am not sure that I would have the courage or passion to do what I do.

To the Chicago Wedding Industry, to not be afraid to STAND UP for what they believe in. For supporting the cause, for coming down to Loft on Lake on a whim to show their support. For joining STAND UP and making videos with us to showcase their support. For people like Cher and Steve Garret, when I said, “You might have some friends of yours not like what you are doing by supporting marriage equality.” And the response, “Then we don’t need them as our friends.”

Yesterday was a historic day for our state. I was so happy to see all of my friends change their status on Facebook to ENGAGED. And now, legally, they are engaged. Today is a historic day for Liven It Up Events. Just as two years ago we were so happy to create a Civil Unions tab on our website, I am jumping for joy that it is coming down!

#LoveIsLove #LoveIsEquality #LoveIsLivenItUp

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