Orr Skips Meeting with Marriage Activists
Cook County Clerk David Orr kept local marriage equality protesters waiting in his office for about a half hour and would not meet with the activists who were there to present him with petitions on May 17, according to a press release from the organization Equal Marriage NOW! The petitions, signed by more than 10,000 people ( who began signing in the summer of 2004 ) , urged Orr’s office to begin immediately issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The action by members of Equal Marriage NOW! and the Gay Liberation Network ( formerly known as the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network ) occurred on the one-year anniversary of Massachusetts’s first same-sex couples marrying. The weddings were legal because of a 4-3 decision by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court in the 2003 case Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. To date, Massachusetts is the only state that has legalized same-sex marriage. ( Connecticut and Vermont are the only states that have legalized gay and lesbian civil unions. )
Activists had hoped to deliver the petitions to Orr to show existing support for marriage licenses to be issued to gay and lesbian couples. Members of Equal Marriage NOW! and Gay Liberation Network were disappointed by Orr’s inaction but vowed to continue urging and pressuring local politicians to start issuing licenses.
According to the press release, activist Blake Wilkinson said that the “action by Mr. Orr typifies the kind of response by our alleged friends who say they support us but won’t even meet with us face to face to discuss how marriage discrimination continues to harm Cook County residents. If Mr. Orr thinks we’re going away or that he can ignore us, he’s sadly mistaken.”
Among the elected officials who signed the petition were aldermen Tom Tunney and Richard Mell ( the father of lesbian same-sex marriage activist Deborah Mell ) as well as Richard M. Daley. A minor flap occurred after Daley acknowledged signing the petition last October without reading it, although he was told what he was supporting. Daley was unaware that the petition demanded that Orr issue licenses and let the courts decide the matter; Daley does not currently intend to pressure Orr. However, in November, marriage advocates presented a giant “Thank You” card to Daley for his support of gay marriage.