Tuesday night, on the eve of the reintroduction of the Illinois marriage equality bill, state representative Kelly Cassidy got a lovely and romantic surprise: Her partner, Kelley Quinn, knelt and proposed marriage to her just outside the state capitol building in Springfield. Cassidy, who is in her first full term representing a Chicago district, answered a few questions about the moment, and the marriage bill, for The Advocate.
The Advocate: Were you surprised? How did you react?
Kelly Cassidy: I was completely gobsmacked. I really didn’t expect it at all. I cried like a baby and said yes.
When and where will the wedding be?
We haven’t really thought that through, although we don’t intend to go out of state. We want to be married here at home, so that means waiting until we pass the bill.
How did you and Kelley meet, and how long have you been together?
We met several years ago while she was managing Sen. Heather Steans’s campaign, although we didn’t start dating then, and after the campaign was over she moved on to other projects and we didn’t see each other for a long time. Almost three years ago, we literally ran into each other on the el platform downtown and reconnected.
What are the odds for passage of the marriage bill? Do you see any major obstacles to it?
I have consistently said that this is a when, not if, proposition, and now I’ll add that I hope it’s sooner rather than later. We cannot let up the pressure, though. We are pushing folks to continue to reach out to their senators and representatives and put a human face on what marriage equality really means. This is particularly important in districts outside the city, where people assume there’s support for equality. We need legislators in suburban and rural districts to hear from their constituents too.
What will be the coolest thing about getting marriage equality passed in Illinois?
I’m excited to have this opportunity to be a part of such a history-making effort and to be able to share that with my kids so that they know that it is possible to make a difference. That, and to be able to celebrate the win by marrying such an amazing woman!