Illinois State Representative Proposes To Partner At Marriage Equality Celebration

With his family at his side, out gay Illinois Rep. Sam Yingling proposed to his partner as supporters celebrated the passage of the state’s marriage equality bill.

Tony Merevick/BuzzFeed

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn may have inadvertently thrown an engagement party Tuesday night.

As elected officials, activists and other supporters celebrated the passage of the state’s marriage equality bill at the Governor’s Mansion, Rep. Sam Yingling paused the party to propose to his longtime partner, Lowell Jaffe.

“I love that you care about other people more than yourself,” Yingling said as the party cheered. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Yingling and Jaffe stood with their children and Quinn as the crowd applauded their engagement.

Jaffe, who was unable to witness the Illinois House — of which Yingling is a member — pass the marriage equality bill, came to the after party. He said he was shocked and surprised.

The proposal came just minutes after Jaffe arrived to the party.

“It was very surreal and I felt like all of this was happening so fast,” Jaffe told BuzzFeed. “This whole fight for marriage equality just became so personal.”

On the drive to Springfield from Chicago, Jaffe said he was telling his sons about how difficult it was to be gay in past decades.

“The fact that I was driving down to Springfield with marriage as the law of the land… it was just very …” Jaffe said, seemingly out of words.

The couple plans to marry next summer, after the marriage law takes affect June 1.

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