Tag Archives: equal rights

Civil Unions Now! Wait, what?

So awhile back on this blog I went to Springfield to lobby for Civil Unions. You’ll notice in the post that my argument for CU was largely “it changes the map”. And look! Look at the map! Now Illinois also gets to be shaded in (lightly).

Same-Sex Marriage Laws U.S.

Yep, the Illinois law takes effect June 1, which totally coincidentally and not on purpose means that our marriage gets recognized as a civil union in Illinois. We don’t have to file any extra paperwork or register or anything. Just as Illinois automatically understands that straight marriages performed elsewhere are marriages, now they’ll grant that gay marriages performed elsewhere (and civil unions performed in other civil-uniony states) are civil unions.

There’s mixed reaction to this news. On the whole, it’s a positive step. Politically, it changes the map. Practically, it offers a lot more security for couples and families. Personally, it helps me get better health insurance!

On the other hand, it is a newly invented classification to keep same-sex couples out of traditional marriage. It offers an equivalent system of legal rights and benefits under a big sign that says “You’re Still Too Different From Us”. So, if Lindsey and I weren’t getting married in Iowa, we probs wouldn’t be getting civil unioned in Illinois*. We don’t have shared property or frail health or children or much else to make the incentives of civil unions worth the annoyance of them existing. Not too mention civil unions are sooo five years ago. Marriage equality is in this spring.

*Btw, you can read about our and other couples’ feelings on this matter in the June 9 issue of TimeOut Chicago. They’re doing a story on just this topic.

As always, you can help change this! If you’re in Chicago, you should come to the Rally to Repeal DOMA on Saturday June 11. It’s in Boystown, so you can support some community engagement before going out for different community engagement. Also, slim chance I might be speaking at the rally. So it might also be an excellent chance to see me be really, really nervous.
And if you’re not in Chicago, people do this everywhere. Find them and get involved.

Do Real Men Care About Weddings

My mom and dad drove me and Lindsey out to the Quad Cities last weekend. We had lunch with Lindsey’s parents at one of the QC’s many fine microbreweries and then all visited the Figge. My parents hadn’t seen the space in person, and it was really nice to see it with them. For one, they loved it, which is reassuring. And it was nice to see it again with new eyes. They noticed a lot of the same things we did, including the awesome spaces and less than awesome acoustics.

We spent Sunday and Monday chatting with wedding people and got a lot done. There will be more blog posts soon about what all went down. On Tuesday, Lindsey’s friend John, who is also part of the wedding party, drove us back to Chicago. John has his wedding all planned out (except for the who is the husband part) already. He knows what he’s wearing, and what kind of cake and food will be served. He really likes weddings and all wedding crap, and has a very definite sense of style in the matter. He also threw in how nice it is that Wedding Everything, Inc. isn’t marketed towards men, so he can just ignore it at his leisure and pay attention to what he does like. None of it pressures him, because nothing is aimed at grooms. In weddings, it is all ladies ladies ladies. Lindsey and I have noticed that too, obvs, because all the heteronorm wedding writing out in the world presumes that A) if you’re reading about weddings, you’re the bride and B) your husband to-be has little interest/ability in planning anything.

Courtesy the Quad Cities, or more specifically, the “Quad Cities Brides” advertising pamphlet, I now have epic example of this. Lindsey picked up this handy brochure in Davenport awhile back and it’s a run-on article about how to plan a wedding-slash-buy-things interspersed with ads. Sample text:

The groom may feel like a prop compared to his lovely bride, but he and his groomsmen must still1 dress the part. And while brides have it easy because they know from the start that their wedding dress may cost a fortune and be difficult to find, it’s not easy for the groom to navigate cummerbunds, bowties, ascots, morning coats and all the other foreign words2 associated with wedding attire for men. What the groom and groomsmen wear to the wedding depends entirely on the occasion itself and what the bride wants3 the groom to wear. The good news is that the bride has been visualizing her wedding for a long time4…

If I were a man, I would cry if I read this. Now, for sure, this is an extreme bit of writing, but it’s really not an extreme sentiment. Most wedding books, websites, and magazines imply the same things: 1 Men don’t want to dress up, even for their own wedding. 2 And even if they do want to dress up, they don’t know how because men are dumb, and shouldn’t be expected to know any rules of fashion (girls only). 3 And even if he does care about the clothes, it shouldn’t matter. 4 Because the woman cares more.

Anyways, that made me sad on behalf of dudes who like looking good and couples who like respecting each other. In the future when we all get gay-married, I wonder how marketing will adjust to create consumer-anxiety in less gendered ways. Or possibly more gendered, I guess.

Another Day of Decision

In November, 2008, residents of California voted to pass Proposition 8, effectively halting same-sex marriages in the state.

The measure’s passage catalyzed a nation-wide movement of protests. From Wyoming to New Hampshire, Florida to Minnesota, in groups from 12 to 1,200, the LGBTQA community stood up and declared love valid. Meanwhile, the 10,000 or more same-sex couples married in California waited for the California Courts to determine the status of their relationship.

In May, 2009, the state Supreme Court ruling came down and the community again stood up. The Supreme Court validated the passage of Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage in California. The thousands of already married couples remain married, an odd reminder of California’s one-time tolerance. Rallies again spread out over the country. Here is a video from Chicago’s rally on that “Day of Decision” last March:

That Chicago rally was organized by Join the Impact Chicago. (Join the Impact was the original netroots-to-grassroots organizers of the Prop 8 protests.) The Prop 8 case has moved through various legal wranglings since then, and was debated in federal court as Perry v. Schwarzenegger. This excellent FAQ can help with the case particulars in a quick read.

JTIC is organizing once more.

Today, Judger Walker, a U.S. District Court judge in California, will issue his ruling in the Proposition 8 lawsuit. This is a federal opinion. Today. At 6pm, Wednesday, August 3, 2010 in Daley Plaza, Chicagoans of all stripes, of all backgrounds, from every part of our rainbow alphabet, will rally in opposition to Prop 8 and in support of legal recognition for queer partnerships.

Chicago, IL (FB event): At Daley Plaza
Champaign, IL: At Alma Mater Statue
Madison, WI: At Johnson and State
Cleveland, OH: At Bounce/Union Station
Ohio City, OH: At Union Station
Tulsa, OK: At 621 E 4th St
Rex Wockner has more, of course. (big ol’ h/t to A. Crain for the links on these sister rallies!)

Party A and Party B

On Friday, Lindsey and I hosted our 1 Mile March for Equality (links to photos and videos at that page; more coming later). It was a terrific event.

We arrived at the Rock Island County Clerk’s office to a a flurry of activity. About a dozen friends came out to support us for the day, as well as Lindsey’s mom and brother. The Quad City Times (Davenport) as well as the Argus-Dispatch (Rock Island & Moline) sent reporters and photographers to cover the event. This was startling and gratifying, because as anyone who has ever invited press knows, you’re usually sending those press releases out into the ether. Our modest group was packed with rainbow flags and signs.

I said this then, and I’ll say it again: Lindsey and I have been beyond blessed by the support and love we’ve received throughout our five years together. We heard from dozens of friends and family members who couldn’t come, encouraging us for this event.

The event went as planned. We all walked in the Illinois office and presented our completed application. We were politely, if nervously, turned down, “Illinois doesn’t recognize marriage for same-sex couples.” The whole group of us walked to the Centennial Bridge. We got a lot of positive reactions from cars going by, and only a couple of negative ones. No one threw anything at us. The Iowa office welcomed us, and in a surreally-overphotographed moment, Lindsey handed in our form and we signed our names. Her brother Patrick acted as our legal witness, as Lindsey had for his marriage license. Ten minutes later, they printed our documents and we’re officially Party A and Party B. (Iowa allows you to check you choice of Bride, Groom, or Spouse on your license application, but both participants are legally Party A and Party B. Identifying your gender is optional; we did so that the Recorder’s Office can quantify the impact of equal marriage in Iowa. Yay statistics.)

Back in Rock Island, a few people watched the documentary which inspired this march, Heartland Transport, and then we discussed the state of marriage in Illinois, Iowa, and the country.

Lindsey’s mother spoke up a little. Lindsey’s mother has moved from unsure about this whole relationship to showing up at protest marches. This woman is amazing. Please, come out to your friends and family. They can surprise you. She spoke a moment on how it’s hard to come out as an ally, hard to talk about how her daughter is gay without being all “This is Lindsey, my gay daughter”, how it’s sometimes hard to see how visible and out she and I are. But then she said, “But I always taught them to speak up if something’s not fair.”

We need to keep up the movement. If you left a comment on one of our Facebook pages, if you read the page here at the blog, if you read the newspaper or saw it on the news, if you told your friends about your friends getting married in Iowa: do something to help. Call your Senator, call your State Reps, ask them about equal marriage in the country or in your state. Join a group. Ask your local LGBTQ rights group for something to do. Write a letter to your local paper’s editor. If you live in Illinois or Iowa and want to get involved, send us a message, we’ll hook you up. Speak out if you think this isn’t fair.

The middle of the story.

April 3rd 2009 was a Friday. Lindsey and I were in our apartment in Panyu, a suburb of megalopolis Guangzhou, China. The results of Varnum v. Brien hadn’t broken by the time we went to bed. We had to get up early the next morning; we were going to Hong Kong.

As soon as I got up Saturday morning, I checked the internet. “Lindsey!” I called out. She came into the room really quickly, because the tone of my voice made it sound as though I had hurt myself or discovered some horrible news. “What?!” “We can get married in Iowa.”

The Iowa Supreme Court had ruled, “We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective… Iowa Code section 595.2 [defining marriage as male-female only] denies gay and lesbian people the equal protection of the law promised by the Iowa Constitution.”

This is perhaps not the most romantic engagement story you’ve ever heard.

Don’t worry, we have other engagement stories. We’ve been getting engaged since at least 2006. We didn’t really expect to be able to get married so soon. But that’s one more thing: we don’t necessarily get to the pick the time and place we’d like to be married. The earliest possible challenge to the Court ruling is 2012. Iowa, fortunately, is where we fell in love and a place we hold dearly. 2011, fortunately, is a good amount of time away for us to be thinking about getting married (and conveniently a year and a half after Lindsey’s brother’s wedding and a year after my sister’s wedding). We are fortunate to be in love and young in a time of change. Iowa is just a small answer to the question “Why can’t we get married?”, but I’m so happy it’s Iowa.

It’s a beautiful spring day today.

You can read the Iowa Supreme Court ruling here. I highly recommend it.