Boystown was jubilant Nov. 5. More than 250 people crammed into the nightspot Sidetrack for a champagne toast to celebrate the historic vote by the House of Representatives that paved the way for Illinois to become the 15th state where same-sex marriage is legal.
"We were not prepared to have this many visitors on a Tuesday night!" Brad Balof of Sidetrack and Equality Illinois joked as he addressed the exuberant crowd. "In related news, Crate and Barrel registry stock has gone up 7,000 percent!"
Balof thanked each of them for doing their part: "The most politically active thing you can do as a gay, lesbian bisexual , transgendered or queer or questioning person is to live your life as an out. So, every day you have done the job of helping to get this bill passed."
Fernando Mojica and Drew Freeman have been together two years. Within four hours of the news breaking, Mojica got down on one knee in their kitchen and asked Freeman to marry him. "I have waited for this my entire life!" An emotional Mojica said. "Illinois says it's OK. I'm a person. He's a person. It's not going to be a civil union or a domestic partnership. I feel real!"
Mark Wojcik, a professor at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago and volunteer for Equality Illinois, noted that Nov. 5 marked the end of a long haul to bring Illinois to same-sex marriage recognition. "It's a great day for all of us," Wojick said with a smile. "It hasn't been a very easy struggle but I wouldn't be surprised if within the next two or three years we have same sex marriage in all states. We're in a great position, legally, politically, socially everything is moving in the direction of equality and the recognition of human rights."
Balof echoed those sentiments to rousing cheers: "This has been 35 years in the making. What a remarkable day for all of us!"