SYCAMORE – In an intimate ceremony on their anniversary, Darla Cook and Jaelyn Paulsen became the first same-sex couple to be married in DeKalb County.
“I love you so much, it is immeasurable,” Cook told Paulsen before sliding a ring on her finger Monday at Mayfield Congregational Church UCC in Sycamore. “Waiting for that special woman to call my wife and to call me her wife has been worth the wait.”
The couple has waited four years from their commitment ceremony March 17, 2010, and nearly three years from their civil union in June 2011 to be legally married. Two weeks ago, they decided not to wait anymore as other counties in the state started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Cook and Paulsen became the first same-sex couple in DeKalb County to have a marriage license after filing a lawsuit last week challenging DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson's decision to wait until the law legalizing same-sex marriage goes into effect June 1 to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Johnson declined to mount a defense, and Thursday, Judge Ron Matekaitis accepted an agreed order allowing same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses.
The couple has been noted for making history by filing suit and as the first – and so far only – same-sex couple in DeKalb County to be married, but they said it never occurred to them what they were doing would be considered historic.
“You don't really think about that part, you just know you're fighting for what you should have,” Paulsen said.
The Rev. Dr. Martha Brunell of Mayfield Congregational Church officiated the wedding, applauding the couple's persistence and determination to open the door for others previously denied the right to marry.
“One of the most beautiful things about what you did was that you provided space for others, others you don't know,” Brunell said. “So we celebrate the example you provided to us of what it means to love another person persistently and what it means to make a wider space for love in our world.”
About 20 friends and family members attended the ceremony, including Wilma Miranda, who knows the couple through church. Miranda and her partner, Rita, have a civil union and plan to get married, an option Miranda didn't think she'd have in her lifetime.
“You have this stake in the world you didn't have before,” Miranda said.