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Make state proud for Patrick & Jim

Patrick BovJim Darby (right) Hyde Park wait line for their Civil Unilicense with other couples Cook County Clerk's Office Daley

Patrick Bova and Jim Darby (right), of Hyde Park, wait in line for their Civil Union license with other couples at the Cook County Clerk's Office at the Daley Center in June 2011. | Sun-Times Media file photo

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Updated: July 24, 2013 6:33AM


I’ve been thinking about the word since last month when I spent time with Jim Darby, 81, and Patrick Bova, 75, down in Springfield.

Jim, a retired teacher and military veteran, and Patrick, a retired librarian, have been together for almost 50 years. Their golden anniversary is July 17.

They, along with other gay and lesbian families, trekked to the General Assembly to lobby for passage of a same-sex marriage bill. Though they have the tweedy look of academics, they are longtime warriors in this battle.

Another skirmish, just announced Friday, is set for Oct. 22 when a coalition of equal marriage advocates will “March on Springfield” as the fall veto session gets under way. It will be another attempt to reclaim the hope everyone felt this May when legislation that had already passed the Senate was ready to be called in the House.

“Everybody was euphoric,” said Jim. “The night before, we’d spent a rollicking evening at a pub.”

The next day, all-powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan invited same-sex couples and their supporters to sit in his box in the House gallery. Surely, that was a positive sign? Madigan wouldn’t have allowed those hopeful people to sit there hour after hour if they were about to be embarrassed by the outcome, would he?

It turned out to be yet another painful lesson in how you never read the tea leaves in Springfield unless Mike Madigan personally brewed the tea.

I watched a somber Jim and Patrick quietly leave the gallery late that afternoon.

For them, this business of marriage is not some esoteric discussion. At 81, Jim freely says, “I’m running out of time here.” Though civilly united, they do not have all the rights and benefits of married couples. And that can include critical “in sickness and in health” questions that arise for us all.

Which takes me back to pride.

This weekend’s Pride Fest celebration in Chicago is the preamble to next weekend’s Pride Parade.

Pride can be a funny word.

As children, we are cautioned that pride goeth before the fall. And in college lit classes, Jane Austen taught us how pride almost doomed Mr. Darcy’s pursuit of Miss Bennett.

But pride, in its best meaning, is a glorious thing. It is the sense of honor and dignity we derive from who we are and what we do with our lives.

When I called Jim and Patrick this week at their Hyde Park home, they were preparing their annual “End of School and Beginning of Summer” celebration. About 100 friends and fellow teachers were about to arrive for a feast of hot dogs, Italian sausage and lasagna. The year after they fell in love, they began throwing this party. This is its 49th year. In a few weeks, it will roll into their 50th anniversary celebration.

If there is any justice in this world, a legal Illinois wedding has to be on their horizon before much longer.

Giving the Land of Lincoln a newfound distinction.

For emancipation.

And pride.

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