Illinois delegates are happy Democrats embrace gay marriage

September 6, 2012

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(WBEZ/Tony Arnold)
Lauren Verdich, left, and Gail Morse on the floor of the Democratic National Convention Wednesday evening.

For the first time ever, one of the two major political parties in the country adopted a platform that embraces gay marriage. And two of Illinois' Democratic delegates say the issue isn’t just political. It's personal.

Lauren Verdich got wistful when she talked about how she met Gail Morse, her partner of 16 years.

"I catered her 40th birthday party, but I told her I owed her a birthday drink because I really didn’t want to mix business with going out with her but I thought she was very cute," she said at a hotel restaurant in Charlotte, where they're both delegates for President Barack Obama.

The two now live together on Chicago’s North Side and they were on hand when the Democrats approved a party platform that included gay marriage.

"This is fundamental. It’s our lives. If we don’t stand up for us, who is?" Morse asked.

Morse is glad Obama is now standing up for them, but she was starting to get impatient.

"I was advocating for him to do it, to just come out and say, ‘Yes, I support it.’ The way he did, slowly evolving, rolling it out, having it come out at the appropriate time was a much better teaching moment and a much better way to bring people along with him," she said.

Regardless of the national debate over gay marriage, Morse and Verdich have a personal interest in what happens in Illinois. A lawsuit is currently pending that seeks to end the state’s gay marriage ban.

But several state lawmakers, nine Republicans and two Democrats, filed briefs supporting the current ban on gay marriage.

Morse and Verdich did enter into a civil union when that became legal a little over a year ago.

"It was very validating, but when it comes time in April for you to file your taxes, it doesn’t mean a thing," Verdich said.

When asked if they would get married if Illinois ever allows same sex couples to do so, Morse sarcastically said, "Oh, I don't know."

She then casually popped the question to Verdich.

"I will marry you, Gail," Verdich said.

Now that Morse has popped the question, they just have to wait to see what Illinois’ answer will be.