Author Archives: Dan

Long Time Gone

I have to wonder if anyone’s still reading this.  It certainly wasn’t our intent for it to go so quiet around here.  But as it frequently does, life happened and here we are a month after the last post.  Summer has been a whirlwind and before you know it, school will be starting up and tht part of life will happen.

Today has been kind of a discouraging day for me on the marriage equality front.  I have found that I am really not a good phone banker.  Not only am I uncomfortable and handle rejection quite poorly, I just don’t have what it takes to whip people up into a frenzy about marriage equality.  And honestly, that kind of sits with my personality.  I am not flashy, I don’t draw attention to myself (usually) and would prefer to fly below the radar.  We hosted a phone bank here today that was very sparsely attended and really didn’t get much accomplished.  I called probably 15 numbers, the vast majority of which were not at home and the two people I actually got bitched me out.  I suppose I can understand that.  I hate the phone as much as the next person, but I try really hard not to be mad at people who call for causes because 1) they really believe in them and 2) they are human beings with feelings.

It’s going to be a shit-fight in January when the legislature reconvenes.  I have been trying to talk myself out of believing that, but it will happen. Even if the people by and large have stopped caring about it, the legislators and politicians have found a hot button issue to rally the troops in an election year.  It WILL be an issue, no matter how much I want to delude myself that it won’t be.

People always ask me why I care.  I’m not gay, I don’t have any gay relatives and didn’t really even know any gay people until the last few years.  I don’t have an easy answer – probably because the answer is complicated and steeped in a lot of my own life story.  But when it comes right down to it, I think the reason I care about LGBT issues in general and marriage equality specifically, it’s because we’re all people.  And while people can be real shitheads sometimes, most of the time, they’re not and they just want to live their lives.

Musician Darren Hayes posted on his myspace blog a picture of him and his husband in Paris last November.  It was right after Prop 8 passed and as a gay man, he was emotionally affected.  He wrote the following which, while not entirely accurate (there was no attempt to change the U.S. Constitution), the sentiments still ring true.

We’re married.
Some folks in California decided to change the American Constitution to legislate
that this right should not be given to gay people in California.
Presumably because of what gay people will do to the definition of marriage.

Just so we are clear, this is our definition of marriage:
We want to grow old together.
We love each other so much that we want to share our lives together, forever.
We are monogamous. We’re faithful. We’re in it for the long haul.
Sometimes we argue over who’s turn it is to make a cup of tea, but for the most
part we are soul mates.

If, God forbid, one of us should fall ill, one of us will take care of the other one.
If,, God forbid, one of us should pass away suddenly, we would want our estate to go
to the one of us who survives.
We’d like other stuff too, like, you know, the same tax breaks as other married couples
and the civil rights you would extend any other committed couple in the free world.
And to be able to be respected and receive the same rights that everyone else has.

But mostly, we just want to grow old together.

We’re really lucky that the country we live in allows for same sex partners to receive
all of these things. But some folks in California recently decided that some Americans
did not deserve this same respect.

So for those people who voted to ‘ban’ gay marriage; to take away a right and permanently
discriminate against a minority group – I wanted to share this picture of Richard and I.
It’s us, tearing down the fabric of good society and the sanctity of marriage in Paris.
Lock up your children!

paris

I have always loved that picture and meant to blog it on my other blog but then the ship sailed and it seemed stupid to do so.

Today, it seems worth repeating.

Why marriage matters

I know that I promised on May 5th (wow, 11 days ago) that there would be more posts here.  If there’s any one thing I hate, it’s blogs that go for weeks without getting updated, and then there’s the post that says “sorry I haven’t updated in a while, life has been busy!”  I don’t know how many readers we have , but this blog is important to Heidi and me.  We will attempt to be a bit more diligent in our writing.

Now having said that, life has been a whirlwind around here.  There have been the standard things to get caught up in – the school year is winding down and we’re also getting ready to take a vacation.  But it’s been more than that.  Over the last 10 days, we have witnessed a dear friend of ours go from being merely sick, to being hospitalized, to being moved to ICU and finally put on a ventilator.  The reasons for this are not entirely clear, and after a tense week, she is well on the road to recovery.  Youth (she is significantly younger than me) is definitely on her side and she has a fighting spirit that will see her through this and the path to a complete recovery.

It was during this time that I realized why marriage really matters.  Her husband is considered next of kin, and with that came the authority to make medical decisions for his wife when she was unable to make her own medical decisions.  Not even her own mother could override the decisions that he made.  Legally, he had the final say.  It got me to thinking about how were he her boyfriend or even her fiance, that assignment would not immediately fall to him.  Without the legality of  a marriage, he could have easily found himself on the outside looking in, while decisions regarding the woman he loved were made, possibly without his input.

Now, of course that is overdrawing it for effect, but is it?  What I was really surprised by was how much those of us who have been afforded the luxury of being married before April 27th really take all that for granted.  Because the history of HIV and the ensuing AIDS epidemic is of such interest to me, it made me think about how many gay men were denied the right to simply be with their dying partners because they were not family, at least not in the legal sense.

So to those who would deny the LGBT community these simple rights, I would ask them to honestly think about how they would feel were they were overruled by their spouse’s immediate family in making health care decisions.

In the meantime, marriage equality will have been the law of the Iowa land for three weeks tomorrow.  Miraculously, the sky is still there.  Life has gone on.  But don’t get complacent.  Things may be quieter now, but this is but the eye of the hurricane.  With 2010 a gubernatorial election year, the entire Iowa House and half the Iowa Senate up for re-election, you can bet that this is only the beginning.  Keep on fighting and most importantly, walk the walk.

Seven days

It has been seven days since same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in the state of Iowa.  It has also been nearly that long since there’s been a post on this blog!  That was not intentional as I think both Heidi and I had meant to post several times.  I, for one, have several posts brewing in my head, but have lacked the time and energy to write them.  But fear not, gentle readers, they are coming.  I am going to try to get at least one of them posted this week.

So what’s happened in the seven days since marriage equality became the law of the land in Iowa?  More than 450 couples have applied for and been granted marriage licenses.  Couples from Minnesota and Missouri have come to Iowa to be married, even though they know that their marriages will not be recognized in their home states.

But what’s more interesting is what hasn’t happened.  The apocalypse has not arrived.  The sky has not fallen.  The world has not stopped turning.  People are continuing to go about their daily business.  But for a certain segment of the population, that business now includes having the same basic rights that I have taken for granted my whole life.

Seven days later, the world is still, more or less, the same.  And this is despite what some of the most angry and vitriolic members of the other side predicted.

There will be more posts this week, I promise.

Hope, courage and respect

One Iowa has unveiled their ad, which began airing on local stations yesterday.  It is quiet and understated, in stark contrast to The Gathering Storm ad and other fiery rhetoric that opponents of equality are displaying.  It speaks loudly with its softness

This is how the war will be won.  Quietly, rationally and with love and tolerance rather than scare tactics and divisieness.

Good job, One Iowa.  Keep up the good work.

Just might do something rash

As I was preparing to write this post, Prince’s “Strange Relationship” came up randomly on iTunes and the lyric “Honey if U left me I just might do something rash” seemed oddly appropriate. It seems like there’s not a day goes by that emotions are not running high. The rhetoric on both sides of the issue of marriage equality seems only to ratchet up. Rash actions are everywhere these days.  A recently released report by the Department of Homeland Security warns of the risk of increasing right-wing extremism.  Members of the Iowa Legislature are receiving frightening e-mails at best and death threats at worst.  Republican candidate for governor Bob Vander Plaats stated Tuesday that if he were elected governor, he would  immediately stay the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision by executive order, and encouraged current governor Chet Culver to do the same, even though the governor has no such authority.  And finally, Christopher Rants (R-Sioux City) attempted yesterday, once again, to force debate on a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage by attaching it to the already controversial tax bill being debated in the Iowa House.  Look for that to make news today, although some reports state that the bill is already dead for this session.

See what I mean about emotions running high?

However, amidst all this rashness, I found what is perhaps one of my favorite editorials yet on marriage equality and the ongoing attempts to get a vote on amending the state Constitution.  It was the lead editorial in the Des Moines Register.  What it accomplished was the opposite of rash.  It calmly detailed how arguments that the court was “activist” by “legislating from the bench” are erroneous.  It also answered Vander Plaats question “Who is to balance the courts?  Who says the courts get the final say?” simply and eloquently.  It’s the Constitution, stupid.

But the best part is here, when speaking about the amendment process here in Iowa:

Amendments must be initiated in the General Assembly, passed by each chamber and again by a second General Assembly separated by an election, and then ratified by a vote of the people. This deliberative process avoids rash changes made in the heat of passion that people might later come to regret – like the drama playing out right now.

What I’m hoping for, and the point I keep coming back to is that the time built into the amendment process is one that will hopefully allow cooler heads to prevail.  Make no mistake – even though the amendment process is likely dead for this session, it WILL come up next session.  I also think that members of the legislature will have to run on either their support or lack thereof of marriage equality.  Exactly how that will affect the election is anyone’s guess, but we’ll hope it is works out for equality rather than discrimination.

As a friend of mine pointed out to me yesterday, social conservatives have a long history of declaring that the sky is falling.  But there it is, still up there.  As a recent letter to the editor in the Quad City Times stated, everyone knows a gay person.  They are our neighbors and co-workers and friends.  Gay men have taught me more about the new masculinity than any straight guy I have known.  And simply put, they deserve equal treatment under the law.  Ultimately, those marriage equality foes will trot out religious argument after religious argument, it boils down to the state of Iowa will not discriminate.  Period.

Finally, this video has been posted all across the blogosphere, but it merits posting here as well.  It successfully debunks every talking point that opponents of marriage equality have.  I post it not to gloat or preach to the choir, but I hope that even one person might be swayed to supporting the cause by realizing it is not about religion or gay marriage.  It is about discrimination.

And the hyperbole of the day award goes to…

The Baptist Press – comparing marriage equality to the devastating floods from last summer.

Hmm, let’s see, which is more destructive? People declaring their love for each other and building up families of all types, or this:

Midwest Flooding

Baptist Press,  there is NO comparison.

Legally speaking

The Atlantic published a brief interview today with Dennis Johnson, who was the lead co-counsel for the same sex couples in Varnum vs. Brien.  The interview is a quick read but what is contained in those few question speaks volumes for the state of Iowa and quality of the character of its residents.

He mentions how Iowa really is a progressive state.  It’s funny that Iowa is the butt of so many jokes in the media, fly-over country to the two coasts and widely regarded as nothing but corn and soybeans.  But we really are so much more than that.  For a state that is really quite homogenous in most respects, we are certainly more than the sum of our parts.  I like that Iowa has this long history of being ahead of the curve with regards to civil rights and the fact that same-sex marriage has happened in Iowa almost just stands to reason.

The other thing worth mentioning is that he is echoing what is becoming a quite commonly heard sentiment in the media.  2012 is the earliest we could see a challenge to this ruling in the form of a vote on a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  That is roughly 4 years from now.  Johnson worked on the case for the 4 years leading up to the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision and watched the dramatic shift in attitudes toward gay marriage.  Can you only imagine where we might be in another 4 years?

I have high hopes that, even if we screw this up and move backward, the next generation will rectify it.  As Mike Gronstal’s daughter said, the other side really “has already lost.”

(Not related to Iowa, but here’s a good link regarding reactions to Vermont’s historic legalization of gay marriage via the state legislature, overriding a veto from the state’s Republican governor.)