So, if you’re one of my readers who doesn’t know me, you might not know that I currently live in Iowa. I intentionally don’t write about it too much because I have a sincere commitment to maintaining a boundary between my personal advocacy and my professional work. I do not write this blog on behalf of any institution, but on my own one square foot of real estate (intentional West Wing reference for those paying attention).
In the present, I am, in fact (albeit temporarily), an Iowan. And tonight, I feel I need to reflect on this just a bit. It’s about 11:30 PM as I write this, and in nine hours, the Iowa State Supreme Court will announce its verdict in Varnum v. Brien, which will essentially determine whether same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa.
It’s a very weird feeling. I’v watched plenty of legal proceedings on the topic. I’ve celebrated Massachusetts, California, Connecticut… even Sweden this week! But I’ve never been in the state when marriage equality was attained.
When I wake up, I might have new rights.
Right now, I can’t get married. Tomorrow, I might be able to… not that I have someone to be marrying, but if I did, I could. Or not.
It makes it feel more real. It’s a terrible reminder of how unequal the queer community really is in society. Tonight, we hold our breaths. Our fate is decided in a matter of hours.
And then what? Either result could mean great things and awful things.
If marriage is made equal, it will be wonderful news. Right now, things aren’t amazing for gay folks in Iowa, and definitely an affirmative decision tomorrow will create many opportunities for a more vibrant, visible, appreciated gay community here in the Hawkeye State. But in the short term, could there be retaliation? Will the covertly homophobic show their true feelings and try to intimidate us out of their state? I don’t know, but tomorrow afternoon when I’m in the Des Moines airport, I’m going to be thinking, “I need to be more careful.”
That will be the same feeling I have if marriage equality is shut down. While it might energize the queer community to triple our advocacy efforts, it might confirm for the folks that don’t want us here or having rights that they’re in the right.
Ultimately, marriage equality is vitally important to our society and the reduction of discrimination in our society. If tomorrow I have more rights than the average gay American, I might even claim some Iowa pride. But regardless, tomorrow is an important day for all LGBT people, including all of my close friends here in Iowa. Our lives won’t be the same in eight and a half hours.
That’s messed up.
If you’re in or near Iowa, I encourage you to participate in the multitude of rallies happening across the state at 5:30 PM. One Iowa has a complete list of locations. They will be either incredibly celebratory or incredibly angry.
For tonight, we wait.