When I imagined my own state rep and State Senator both standing in the well of their respective legislative bodies, boldly saying their calls were 100% against the Marriage Ruling, I decided I had to call them.
When I called my sister across town to ask for some solidarity and action, she called back to let me know she gave them both an earful.
I then decided to email at least one of them.
And it got kind of personal, but it was downright cathartic.
I don't know if she'll read it, but you might like to.
My name is Gary Stewart, and I live at XXX North XXXXX St. in Kellerton.
I am so proud of The Supreme Court of the Great State of Iowa's recent unaminous decision that Iowa will no longer allow continued discrimination against our gay and lesbian citizens in regards to marriage.
I was born in Mt. Ayr in 1953, and the leading threat to the institution of marriage then, as now, was not Gay marriage, but probably the infidelity that led to my parents divorce.
I should clarify this. It was my father's infidelity that led to the divorce and bannishment of my Mother, with four siblings and myself to another far-away state. My father, who held marriage sacred, and considered homosexuals less than human, remained here in Iowa, where, after a lives-shattering contested divorce, he remarried in a few short months.
He and his new wife adopted a baby girl the year after that, so he only managed one $50.00 court ordered child support payment to his natural born children until my mother remarried 7 years later.
He later divorced and deserted his second wife (and adopted child), going on to marry 5 other women, in a spree that may have single-handedly skewed some of the demographics that will undoubtedly be presented to you in defense of "Traditional Marriage."
But all his life, he considered himself a good "Pro-Family" Republican.
My Mother's new marriage, thankfully, was to a military man, who adopted the 3 younger of us children. After the initial shock and denial, my evangelical Mother and Adopted Father grew supportive of their gay son, and wanted for him what they had for themselves.
The two of them provided a model stable home and marriage that lasted until their sudden and unexpected deaths, 2 days apart, in 1999.
I would implore you to concentrate on making divorce more difficult in our State before expending energy on making Marriage impossible for many of its responsible citizens, if "protecting" the institution is your concern.
As for the five of us kids, we all are grown and in stable, long-term relationships, despite the rampant heterosexual promiscuity we were subjected to, and only one of us is not married in a legal sense.
That would be me.
That will change now, due the courageous and principled Iowa Supreme Court decision made last week, because I made the fortuitious decision to return to live in my home state last April with my partner of 13 years.
Our State Supreme Court's decision strengthens marriage. It does nothing to diminish the institution, any more than the striking of anti-miscegenation laws of the 50s and 60s did.
One of my sisters could not have married under those antiquated laws, nor could the beautiful nephew and niece she gave us as a result of that union have had the "luxury" of married parents in the home.
That niece, under old laws, could not be serving her Country in her position in the U.S. Army because prior to WWll, segregation and discrimination, in The Armed Services, in schools, and all throughout society was enshrined in Law.
Thank God, Iowa has always been a leader for the rest of the Country!
Personally, gay marriage has never been a big priority to me before this, as I have borne witness to and concentrated on fighting discrimination and gay bashing all my post-adolecent life. But now, I am filled with hope.
Hope for myself, and hope for all the little gay kids growing up, who no longer have only the old stereotypes to model themselves on.
Now disabled, I am low income, and cannot afford a lawyer to draft and file the hundreds of different contracts with my partner that would provide us with a near approximation of the marriage you enjoy and the rights it confers on you and your spouse.
Even if I could afford those contracts, they would not bring me and mine to parity with you and yours.
As one of your constituents, I urge you to recognise Iowa's proud, progressive history on Civil Rights, and join with me in celebrating the Iowa Supreme Courts marriage decision.
Once our stubborn generations are gone, or even as we watch power shift to a far more tolerant younger generation, this marriage issue will be looked on with as much embarassment and puzzlement as slavery, anti-miscegenation laws, and other indefensible past forms of discrimination are today.
Please be on the right side of history on this.
Thank you. Gary Stewart
P.S. Are you interested in attending Ringgold County's first legal same-sex wedding?