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The Next Generation

Ethan McNamee is a LGBT activist.  He got started because he overheard some gay slurs among his friends and because he found out a gay couple who lived in his neighborhood couldn’t get married.  So, because he felt it was important to stand up for equality, he organized a rally for marriage equality in his hometown of Denver, Colorado.  His only hangup was that he had to have someone else officially file the permit for the rally, because at nine years old, it wasn’t legal for him to do so.

(Full story here)


What I love most about this story is that it’s very unlikely that this young man is able to fully identify his own sexuality yet, which means that this is much more about doing what he feels is right than protecting a peer group.  If you listen to his speech, you’ll hear him speak of police brutality against gays, and he asks how he is supposed to trust police officers if he knows that they can do this to a group.  Yes, he has some nine year-old reasoning and arguments in his speech, but it isn’t what he says that is so powerful; it’s that he is so young and so moved to speak at all.

In part because of how we have raised her, our daughter is already a fierce marriage equality advocate.  She has a One Iowa t-shirt which she wears proudly (usually to bed because it’s a bit oversized at this point), and if she hears I am attending a rally or volunteering for One Iowa, she asks to go.  She was very disappointed when she went with me to the last hours of our shift at the Story County Recorder’s office on Marriage Day and no couples came through for her to welcome.  When I told her that we had a picnic date with two of the “moms” who picked up licenses that day and their children, you would have thought I told her we would be dining with celebrities.  To Anna, LGBT rights should be granted without question.  To Anna and many of her peers, it is difficult to grasp even why LGBT persons would be shut out from the law.  

Ethan and Anna are of a generation which will grow up for at least for years with an African American President of the United States.  They have been told this is a significant step, but to them, it will simply be normal.  For a minimum of four more years, marriage equality will be the law in Iowa.  In four years Ethan McNamee and my daughter will be thirteen and eleven, respectively.  They will both be on the cusp or leading edge of puberty, and regardless of what their own sexualities might be, they will be discovering, by pure law of statistics, that some of their friends are or might be LGBT.  They will have seen more and more LGBT couples and stories about them.  For them, unless adults tell them otherwise, it will seem very odd that people who have been marrying since they were in elementary school suddenly can’t, if anyone tries to push such an amendment.  Children who are eleven and thirteen now will, in four years, be finishing high school and beginning college.   They will be very near to voting age as well, and will have seen even more clearly how normal and natural LGBT persons are, and how very many they number among their peers.  It will seem even stranger to them to deny their friends rights that they had witnessed in their culture all through middle school and high school.

On May 30th, One Iowa is hosting a Grassroots Power Summit in Des Moines.  Once again, One Iowa is leading the way with positive, proactive education and information, not to wage a war against “the enemy” but to continue to build a bridge of understanding between the LGBT community and all Iowans.  I’ve already put in my reservation to be there, and I hope you will, too.  I want to help continue to make Iowa the leader in civil rights and equality.  I want to help keep Iowa a place where all the Ethans and Annas, regardless of their orientation, can be not just proud, but safe, to be whoever they need to be.  I think it’s wonderful that Ethan McNamee feels so passionate about equality, and his actions hearten me.  But as the adult that comes before him, it only makes me want to work harder so that when, in nine years, he becomes a fully legal adult in our society, he and all his friends find that they are full and legal citizens of the United States, free to love and marry whomever their heart tells them is right.


Love Not Laws

There have been a number of youtube responses to NOM’s “Gathering Storm” ad, and I have enjoyed them, but this is the first one that I thought was truly in the spirit of what we’re trying to do with this blog.

I love how NOM released an ad to stir things up in Iowa and it became a national sensation.  I love how the lies and misrepresentations have been deconstructed, reconstructed, and essentially undone. But I love this one because it is a positive message.  And I’m still in love with the One Iowa ad: may it stay on the air for a long, long time.

Wedding Day Approaching!

gayweddingmenThis coming Monday, April 27, is the day county recording offices will begin issuing same-sex wedding licenses in Iowa. It’s so exciting to simply write that!  Are you getting married?  Are you helping plan for a wedding?  I can’t wait to start hearing these stories, and I will admit freely I am waiting like a wallflower, hoping to be invited to some.

In the meantime, I imagine some people are nervous about going to their county offices because it’s hard to shake off years of stigma and the idea that marriage is reserved for heterosexuals.  The good news?  One Iowa is on the case again, providing you with much needed information and tips.  Please sign up and keep yourself informed and your rights protected.

One Iowa is also helping to network volunteers to help county recorders and to help same-sex couples feel reassured when they sign up for licenses.  I’m going to be one of them, in fact–as of right now it looks like I’ll be at Webster City during the day and then Story County after 4PM, but that could change.  All I can say is that I wish Dan and I had this kind of support when we went to register for a license. 200-x-200-commitment

You have, too, I hope seen the new licenses themselves?  “Partner A” and “Partner B.”  If I weren’t married already, these would be the forms I’d use.  There was so much built-in sexism to the process, even back in 1997; I got so tired of seeing commercial publications urging me to become “Mrs. Daniel Cullinan.”  I love the simplicity of Partner A and Partner B.  I love what a gender and orientation equalizer this is.  I’ve heard people–gay and straight–say that calling it “marriage” isn’t a big deal, but you know, it is.  It’s the word we’ve set up for many, many years to signify a committed union.  It has social as well as legal implications.  

So if I end up volunteering at your county recorder and I’m a bit over-excited, please forgive me.  Or, better yet, be very excited along with me.

Happy planning!


UPDATE: Here is a link to One Iowa’s outstanding marriage resource page.  Thank them with a donation if you’re so inclined!

Thursday News Round-Up

Please excuse the unintended dry spell of posts; I had an unexpected bout of carpal tunnel, and on the heels of that a sick child, and Dan’s attempt to post a large update was eaten by WordPress.  But in the spirit of “better late than never,” here’s a link/news round-up for the past few days.

The big news is that Republicans keep attempting to force an amendment vote through any means necessary, including a push yesterday to attach the amendment to another bill (which did not get voted on). Interestingly enough, this push was not reported in any internet news sources I could find. During a rally at the statehouse Monday, Vander Plaats has put himself center stage against opponents of equal marriage, vowing that if he were governor he would immediately put a stay on all same-sex marriages, something which many have come forward to explain that a governor does not, in fact, have the power to do. Tuesday Sen. Merlin Bartz tried to push a “conscience clause” which would allow county recorders to refuse to issue licenses if they object to gay marriage, a precedent which I will say, personally, makes my blood run cold.  This failed, as have all other attempts, but it is also clear that until this session closes, Republicans will do whatever they can and on a daily basis to block marriage equality.

Across the country, however, marriage equality continues to attempt to expand; Governor Paterson of New York will introduce a Same-Sex marriage bill, according to the New York Times. Washington State’s legislature expanded same-sex partnerships Wednesday.  Rick Warren is everywhere in the news as well, going out of the way to assure people he did not support or campaign for Proposition 8, despite Youtube evidence that he did. Responses from our neighbors, meanwhile, continue to center around surprise but are overall supportive.

I’ve found it interesting how many national articles are springing up to point out that the next phase in gay rights may very well be the phasing out.  The Washington Post reported that Love Makes a Family in Connecticut is closing its doors and declaring, essentially, “mission accomplished.” The article points out that the LGBT movement has been on for so long–and overall battered for so long–that it may be difficult for some communities to transition out of defense and into the mainstream world of equal rights.  With the passage of Proposition 8 and the battle still going strong in many states, and the clear intent to continue challenging equality in Iowa, clearly it isn’t quite time to board the aircraft carrier for good.  However, this is a good point, that ultimately the goal of these marriage equality groups is to put themselves out of business.

This clearly can’t happen, however, until the dust settles on conservative fears that their rights will be taken away, and until the federal government follows the lead of the increasing number of equality-minded states, something which is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Here in Iowa, we continue to have a clear sight of a long, likely unpleasant struggle before us.  However, at this moment equality is playing offense, not defense.  We have the ball.  And everyone who’s ever played high school basketball knows what you do with the ball at the end of the fourth quarter: you hold your ground, keep calm, and wait out the clock.

The Opinion of the Iowa State Supreme Court Regarding Varnum Vs. Brien

We’re still unpacking boxes and arranging furniture on the site, but while you’re waiting, please read the masterwork which is the full opinion posted Friday by the Iowa Supreme Court.