SPRINGFIELD — After a nearly week-long lame duck session that she deemed particularly “lame” due to little legislative action, Rep. Kelly Cassidy said she was not in any way expecting her girlfriend of nearly three years, Kelley Quinn, to kneel down steps away from the glowing Capitol building to propose.
“We just took the ‘lame’ out of lame duck session,” Cassidy said in an interview just minutes after she said “yes” to Quinn Tuesday night.
Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat representing the city’s North Side, and Quinn, Director of Communications at Cook County Assessor’s Office are now engaged — just a day before the chief sponsors of legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois plan to reintroduce bills in the new General Assembly Wednesday.
Cassidy said she thinks her own engagement will have a positive effect on other members of the General Assembly, particularly in the House where she serves, when weighing the upcoming same-sex marriage bill.
“Whether it’s about my engagement or anyone else’s, knowing someone, having someone in your life that this is meaningful to, makes a difference,” Cassidy said of the significance of the timing. “[House lawmakers] are not just my colleagues, they are my friends and some of them just saw us — they were the first people we saw afterwards.”
Close to home, Quinn said getting marriage and having the marriage recognized by the state will make their family stronger.
The couple raises Cassidy’ three sons, one who is 11, and 8-year-old twins.
“It’s about making our family whole at the end of the day,” Quinn said. “And I think that’s important. This has been a long time coming. As anyone knows, it takes a long time to save for a ring.”
Smiling, Quinn believes she was victorious in surprising Cassidy but admits her palms were sweaty and she already can’t remember what she said while proposing.
“I think one of the things I said was ‘I will never find someone who puts up with me like you do,’” Quinn said.
Cassidy can only remember so much as well, because she was weeping with happiness.
“My goal was to surprise her and I think I did it,” Quinn said. “I’m actually down here working at the same time. I’ve been carrying around the ring in my bag with my little security guard friend — my work wife — she’s like my body guard.”
Quinn is referring to Cristina Villarreal, president of the board at Chicago’s chapter of the National Organization for Women, and the photographer who snapped a photo of the proposal.
“I just witnessed love,” Villarreal said. “It was a beautiful moment on a beautiful night and I’m glad I could be part of it.”
Quinn and Cassidy met while working on Sen. Heather Steans’s campaign. Quinn was the campaign manager and Cassidy worked as a volunteer. Incidentally, Steans is the chief sponsor of the marriage equality bill in the Senate.