Wednesday, April 4, 2012

3rd Anniversary of "Varnum V. Brien" Marriage Equality Ruling!

Speaking of yesterday, April 3rd was the third anniversary of the historic Varnum V. Brien Iowa State Supreme Court ruling, which affirmed an earlier lawsuit that struck down Iowa's DOMA law as unconstitutional and paved the way for gay and lesbian couples to get legally married. Since then, me, my husband, and several thousand other gays and lesbians have gotten married and celebrated the joys of family.

I thought it might be fun to travel three years back in time and show you what I was thinking back on April 3, 2009:
Good news! Iowa's Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling striking down the state's DOMA law. In less than a month, all couples -- mixed-gender or same-sexed -- will be able to obtain marriage licenses!

What this doesn't mean: Churches and ministers will not be forced to marry gay couples. They are not forced to marry any straight couple right now and this will not change. Churches can set whatever wedding policy they want: no weddings; only weddings for members; only weddings for members or family members of members; only weddings for members of their denominations or faith; etc. If First Congregation United Church of Christ in Anytown, IA, decides that it doesn't want to marry Jim & Jerry, nothing can force them to do this.

What this means: I'm engaged to my husband, Mark! No specific plans currently exist, but we are going to get a marriage license to protect ourselves and our children.

Even with a DOMA law in place, we were able to wed at my church, Faith United Church of Christ, back in 1997. It was a purely symbolic ceremony. Even if the state wasn't going to recognize our union, it was important to both of us to find a church that was willing to unite us as a couple.

The church honors our marriage. Our state doesn't. Still doesn't until we obtain a license.

Now we have the opportunity to become legally married. We will definitely do a "justice of the peace" type ceremony. We want to make it clear to anyone and everyone that this license has nothing to do with God, with the church, or with religion. It's a license that offers specific state-honored rights and responsibilities.

It is possible that we will hold a follow-up religious wedding. That's still being considered. But we already did that nearly 12 years ago.

Either way, it's an exciting day for us and many other Iowans!!!!
I was right about the fall-out. It's been three years and no church has hosted any gay wedding unless it wanted to. No pastor has been forced into officiating any wedding. No arrests. No jail sentences. No polyincest wedding mayhem. No problems.

We were originally planning on doing the justice of the peace thing, but ended up getting married at our church again. After some investigating, it made sense to do it that way again.

Happy Anniversary Iowa! I look forward to sharing more Varnum anniversaries well into my old age!

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