Darin and Bill

Bill and I first met eight years ago online. We dated for five years before getting married: we were sure it was right! I distinctly remember when we first said “I love you.” We were on holiday for Labor Day to visit some friends back East and that was the first time those words were spoken.

Since then, we’ve faced an amazing amount of trials and tribulations together. Bill’s mother passed away after we had only been married for about two years. We have been through an immense amount of things together as a couple that would test anybody. I think we have proved our metal! Bill is still there every morning when I wake up and I’m not going anywhere.”

The reasons marriage matters to us are two-fold:

On the more practical side: we both own property, we both have assets and we should have the right to inherit without ghastly inheritance taxes. We should have the same rights as opposite-sex couples.

Emotional level: I still get chills when I am introduced to Bill’s colleagues and peers as his husband. We were in Heidelberg, Germany a few weeks ago and went to the banquets and social events and I was introduced to people all over the world as his husband. And, you know what? It still made me a little weak in the knees.

Just having the right to say that is something that would have made so many of our peers and our LGBT fore-fathers and mothers so much more secure in their relationships and so much happier just having the thrill the hearing those words said out loud. That’s why marriage matters.

Darin is the owner of Sugar Bear Sweets and Bill is the Sarpy County prosecutor. They were married in Iowa and currently reside in Nebraska.

April 2, 2013 at 10:47 am

STORIES: Francie and James

My husband James and I had our wedding in beautiful Hocking Hills, Ohio, in the fall of 2012. bernae

We were spiritually married by James’ brother, the UCC (accepting/loving denomination) Reverend Matt Wooster. It was beautiful and perfect.

However, we traveled to Iowa to get legally married and to get our civil marriage license. We did this because Ohio marriage law excludes loving same-sex couples in our state. We didn’t want to give our signatures and our money to fund exclusion.

Iowa has marriage equality! Therefore, we gladly gave Iowa the $180 it takes to get the marriage license and a magistrate to marry us. Also, we had a lovely time honeymooning in Iowa and spent tourism dollars in a state that supports love and marriage for all.

I just wanted to share our story with you. We want people to know that marriage equality is good for all people, businesses and communities.

Thank you for the work you do to promote marriage equality.

Francie and James

February 7, 2013 at 3:31 pm

STORIES: Alyssa and Ryan

Alyssa and RyanMy feelings on marriage as a whole have changed as I grew up. As a little girl, I dreamed of meeting my dream man (who preferably looked like Ken or one of the boys from Hanson) and frequently staged elaborate Barbie weddings. In college, however, marriage was not something I saw in my future. I couldn’t imagine wanting to spend every day for the rest of my life with one person.

When I met Ryan—who is now my fiancé—all that changed. He made me realize why marriage matters.

Marriage matters because it means you have someone who is always there for you, who will be around for the pure joy and utter despair that life can bring.

Marriage matters because you become a little less selfish. You understand that your actions affect someone else and you learn to compromise. In the end, you just want to make that person happy, regardless of what it takes.

Marriage matters because we all need someone who knows us inside and out, who knows our deep dark secrets, who has seen us act like a fool, and loves us even more for it.

Marriage matters because it enables us to create and raise strong and loving families, with children who will carry on after we are gone from this world.

Marriage matters because it makes us better people. Finding someone who thinks you are perfect despite your flaws makes you want to live up to his or her idealized image of you.

Marriage matters because “to love another person is to see the face of God.” (Borrowing a line from the currently trending Les Miserables)

All these things are not “gay” or “straight” needs and wants. They are human needs and wants. All people deserve the wonderful benefits of marriage—whether it’s the legal right to see your loved one in the hospital or the more intangible “feelings” of being in love. Ryan and I just want everyone, including our gay and lesbian friends and relatives, to find the same joy we have found in one another. There’s nothing quite like it.

January 31, 2013 at 9:44 am

STORIES: Thang and Randy

Randy and IWhile the topic of marriage equality has its place in many constitutional battles and certainly exudes a greater sense of self and the respect for individuality in our society today, I took pause when first reflecting on this question as to why marriage equality matters to me.

Those court battles, political campaigns, and You Tube montages narrating a life too soon removed from our world mean very important things for our children, and our children’s children in the future.

However, in my heart of hearts, the topic of “marriage equality” means a very basic thing to me: to love.  Everything about it: giving it, embracing it, sharing it, and celebrating it.

>That cheesy, gutsy, often-times frighteningly daunting sense of falling head-over-heels for someone else.  That weird feeling when your stomach just lurched into your throat.  Whether one seeks to find that feeling at a midnight ball, in an abandoned tower somewhere in Neverland or in the comfort of ones sweet slumber, we have all been groomed to find that “happily ever after” with our magical prince/princess.

Thank you very much, Disney.

So when we find it, what more beautiful thing to do than to be free to just DO it? Love, I mean.  I don’t need anyone’s approval or acknowledgement to celebrate love.  I don’ t need a social stencil into which I must squeeze my love so that you can try to comprehend it.

I don’t want to be made to feel less than equal because my “ever-after” is in fact with the handsome Prince Charming. And frankly, there is already far too much negativity in the world so why add more to it?  Why not just open up your heart and…just do it?  Love.

Marriage equality matters to me because it means that we, as a society, have had enough intolerance, judgment, and negativity in this world and that we are ready to embrace and celebrate love – proudly, loudly, and happily ever after!

January 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm

A new story from James & Sok Cheng ‘Karen’ Temple

Marriage matters to us because it is a public declaration of the commitment a couple has made to blend their lives together. It’s about love, commitment, and building a family. Marriage means being there for the person we love during the good times and the bad. I can’t imagine not being able to visit my wife if she were in the hospital, or not being able to make important health care decisions. Marriage allows us these responsibilities and privileges.

Marriage is a foundation of society. It is important, because no other word says “we are a family” like the word “marriage” does. Marriage holds a strong cultural value and meaning. Denying marriage to gay and lesbian couples is hurtful to LGBT families.

My wife and I are an interracial couple and not so many years ago we would have been unable to obtain a marriage license because of this fact. That was unjust and wrong then, just as it is unjust and wrong today to deny loving and committed gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry. This is why we are so thankful and so proud to live in Iowa, where ALL families are recognized.

James and Sok Cheng ‘Karen’ Temple
Read more stories

November 20, 2012 at 10:54 am

Inclusion: Family finds support in Cedar Valley

from The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.

CEDAR FALL, Iowa — During the first Cedar Valley Pride Fest in August, Brenda Fite and Jennifer Waldron were among hundreds who listened to Zach Wahls talk about growing up with two moms.

…Fite and Waldron think highly of Wahls, but hope their 2-year-old son, Lloyd, won’t have to follow in his footsteps.

“When Lloyd is Zach’s age now, I hope this won’t even be an issue,” Fite said.

The couple have made a life in the Cedar Valley and say that despite the ongoing debate about same-sex marriage, the community as a whole has welcomed their family.

When Fite, an independent software programmer, and Waldron, an associate professor at the University of Northern Iowa, were married in 2009, their neighbors were congratulatory. Those same neighbors now look after Lloyd on occasion. The couple attend St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church, and their lives in the Cedar Valley are filled with supportive family and friends.

“There are a lot of allies in the community,” Waldron noted. “People speak out in support. We’re really doing well. Most of our experiences are civil dialogues and respectful conversations.”

…Additionally, Fite and Waldron would like to be the married parents of Lloyd wherever they go. Although their marriage is legal in Iowa, it’s not recognized in Ohio, where Fite’s parents live.

“My parents travel here and they’re still married. We’d like to travel to Ohio and still be married. We’re not asking for special rights, just equal rights,” she said.

When they do travel, the family carries copies of all of their legal documents, including proof of Lloyd’s birth and adoption. Fite is Lloyd’s biological mother, and through a long and harried process, Lloyd was legally adopted by Waldron.

“There were four months of Jen not having a legal right to Lloyd,” Fite said. “If something had happened to me, who was going to speak for Lloyd?”

Although Fite and Waldron have had some involvement with Why Marriage Matters, a joint campaign effort of One Iowa and Freedom to Marry, the couple say they are not activists. They will, however, not shy away from telling their family’s story.

“It’s important that there are voices,” Waldron said. “Those voices have made it easier for us to live our quiet lives.”

That quiet life plays out in the landscape of their home. Toys litter the corner of the living room, where Lloyd is quick to show off his dump truck and Fite is quick to translate what he’s saying. A toddler swing hangs from a tree branch in the front yard. Daisy, a 7-year-old rescue dog and the newest addition to the family, is, for now, skittish around newcomers.

“With our family structure, most people are willing to get to know us even if they aren’t quite sure,” Waldron said.

The couple say they’re like any other parents, with the same worries, routines and responsibilities.

Read the full article from The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.

November 2, 2012 at 11:37 am

Representative Elesha Gayman

On October 11th, my husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary.  We didn’t plan for it to coincide with National Coming Out Day, as we are a heterosexual couple, but the occasion gave me pause to reflect on my own marriage and the challenges many face for the basic right to make a commitment and partnership with a person they want to share their life with.

I was sitting in a unique spot as a member of the Iowa House of Representatives in 2009 when the ruling came down that all Iowans had the freedom to marry regardless of their sexual orientation.  It was a proud day for me as an Iowan and I immediately thought about my friends and family members that would now have the same opportunity to marry that I had.  But in that controversial yet unanimous ruling I also saw some of the worst come out in individuals who did not believe in marriage equality for all.  It was in these individuals that I had the first inkling of what my GLBTQ friends must endure in a society where equality is a constant struggle.

My wedding was a small affair, with my husband and I saying our vows in a tiny chapel in a French Château.  In that chapel, my husband and I made a commitment.  We made a commitment to one another and to God and at no time did we have to consider what the government deemed legal or illegal.  Our wedding day was about us, our love, and the future we were vowing to build together.  At no point has anyone’s ability to marry changed the integrity of the commitment we made to one another in that chapel.

Marriage is a deeply personal commitment and something I believe all people should have the opportunity and fundamental right to enter into.  I am proud to come from a state where we have a legacy of valuing civil rights and I hope that we continue to blaze the trail for equality for all.

October 31, 2012 at 8:58 am

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