Posts filed under ‘News’

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

Upbringing starts the conversation

from The Telegraph Herald.

Zach Wahls is quite a rock star in the marriage-equality movement.

After he spoke at Carnegie-Stout Public Library on Thursday night, many of the about 90 attendees lined up to shake his hand, have their pictures taken with him or get their copy of his book signed. That’s what having a YouTube video with 17 million hits will do for someone.

“People want to get a picture taken with him and put it on their Facebook page,” said Molly Tafoya with One Iowa, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group.

Dubuque was the final stop in Wahls’ statewide, Why Marriage Matters tour with One Iowa.

Wahls is an agreeable advocate for LGBT rights who, One Iowa officials admit, “opens doors that we can’t.”

He is handsome, charming, well-spoken and funny. And he is unwavering in his love for his lesbian parents. Wahls’ book, “My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family,” released this year, has garnered international attention.

“The attention has given me an opportunity to get out into the world and have this conversation about ‘gay marriage,’ which I just call ‘marriage,'” said Wahls, 21, a native Iowan who lives in Iowa City.

“I learned about family love and commitment from my moms. It hasn’t been easy for them,” he said, describing a critical hospital visit when his “tall mom,” his biological mother, Terri Wahls, was not allowed into the emergency room when his “short mom,” Jackie Reger, was treated for a near-fatal condition.

After same-sex marriage became legal in Iowa, the couple got a marriage license and held a wedding ceremony.

When people learn Wahls was raised by two mothers, they often ask similar questions about his daily life. He often disappoints them by detailing its normalcy.

Audience members told Wahls about differing experiences of being gay in Dubuque.

One man recalled gay pride parades when marchers were pelted with eggs and described the city as lagging in the movement toward marriage equality. Another said, although he was afraid to move to Dubuque four years ago, he and his husband have felt very welcomed by the community.

The audience was asked to sign a pledge card to have five conversations within the next few weeks with friends and strangers about “why marriage matters.”

Wahls shied away from talking politics, noting that he was speaking in a public library, but someone brought up the push by Republicans to oust another Iowa Supreme Court justice who participated in the 2009 ruling that allowed same-sex marriage.

“I can’t tell you to turn your ballot over and vote one way or another, but I can tell you to vote,” Wahls said. “But if you value an independent judiciary, then voting to protect them is the right thing to do.”

Read the full article from The Telegraph Herald.

August 31, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Pridefest brings hundreds downtown for diversity

from Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.

WATERLOO, Iowa — Being raised by two lesbian moms may be rare in Iowa, but Zach Wahls says he had a normal, happy childhood.

The Iowa City man is proud of his parents, and he’s traveling the state with One Iowa — the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group — telling anyone who will listen. He had a receptive audience Saturday afternoon at Cedar Valley Pridefest in downtown Waterloo.

Hundreds of people, gay and straight, filled the 300 block of West Fourth Street to hear Wahls, the featured speaker, and participate in the first celebration held in the city to showcase sexual orientation diversity. The daylong event featured musical acts, female impersonators, drag races, information booths and a host of other activities.

Wahls, who became nationally known after giving a passionate speech about equality last year during a public hearing held by the Iowa House Judiciary Committee, told the crowd there’s only one difference between him and people raised by straight parents.

“I’m really good at putting the seat down,” he said, followed by chuckles from the crowd. “You’re laughing, but it’s true. If you can find a difference, let me know.”

A video of Wahls’ speech against a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Iowa was posted on YouTube. It’s received more than 18 million views to date, which earned him appearances on several national television programs like “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

Wahls said there are some people who still don’t want his family to exist. But the nation has come a long way since 2003 when it was illegal in 12 states to be a homosexual. Luckily, Wahls said the attitude toward the LGBT community has changed for the better. People are much more accepting, he said, and events like Pridefest go a long way toward equality for everyone.

“A person’s worth is not dictated by the gender of the person they love,” Wahls said.

Jennifer Waldron and Brenda Fite held hands with their son, Lloyd Waldron, during Wahls’ speech. The Cedar Falls couple wanted to hear about Wahls’ experiences first-hand because they know Lloyd, 2, will eventually face the same type of issues and questions.

Wahls said friends would ask if his parents were gay and what it’s like to be raised by two moms. As a young man, Wahls even said some guys asked if his moms were hot.

Ultimately, the answers indicated he led a great life.

“I hope our son will be as proud and loving when he’s speaking of his moms,” Brenda Fite said. “We’ve come so far. … When Lloyd is Zach’s age now, I hope this won’t even be an issue.”

The goal of the festival is to celebrate diversity in the Cedar Valley and promote acceptance and inclusion, organizers said.

An estimated 400 people paid entry to the event in the first three hours. Gates opened at noon. Pridefest committee member Mike Tyer said the community response was phenomenal, and he expected the crowd to double or more by midnight.

“This shows the community is accepting and appreciative of diversity. It’s our differences that make us a community,” Tyer said.

Read the full article from The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.

August 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Why Marriage Matters

from KIMT.

MASON CITY, IA – Why does marriage matter? That’s the question one state organization is answering as the group tours Iowa this week. They’re talking about gay marriage in the state and the goal is to show communities why it’s important.

The group One Iowa is teaming up with Zach Wahls, who is sharing his experiences growing up with two moms. He’s addressed the Iowa House and has been on national TV.

His hope is to keep the issue of gay marriage from being political. Instead he’s having an open conversation with the community in North Iowa about any concerns they have with gay marriage and at the same time, discussing what it means to real families and real people to have the right to get married.

“At the end of the day, this is not a conversation about converting anyone’s religious beliefs. It’s a conversation about respect for each other and the ability to sit down and have a dialog.”

The group is speaking to eight different communities in Iowa.

Read the article and watch the video from KIMT.

August 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Son of lesbian couple speaks in Sioux City

from The Sioux City Journal.

SIOUX CITY | Zach Wahls said he doesn’t feel like he grew up differently than anyone else.

An Eagle Scout and former high school quarterback, the Iowa City resident credits his “two moms,” Terry Wahls and Jackie Reger, for instilling in him strength, confidence and courage.

“People always ask what it’s like having gay parents,” he said, during the “Why Marriage Matters” forum Thursday at the Sioux City Convention Center. “They aren’t gay parents. To me, they’re just parents.”

The event was sponsored by One Iowa, the state’s largest gay advocacy group.

Zach Wahls, 21, gained national attention last year, when he passionately spoke in front of the state House of Representative against a proposed amendment to repeal marriage equality. House lawmakers approved a plan to create a ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriage if approved.

On Thursday, he talked about marriage equality and having gay parents.

“Nobody calls their mom and dad ‘straight’ parents,” he said. “It’s no different in my family.”

Growing up, he said, there were plenty of male role models, except at home.

“I learned how to use a razor from my best friend’s dad,” he said. “Having two lesbian parents weren’t good for that.”

He said his moms marriage in 2009 — after the Iowa Supreme Court allowed same-sex marriages — gave them the same legal rights other married couples have. That wasn’t the case when Terry Wahls, his biological mother, came down with multiple sclerosis in 2006.

When Reger took her to the emergency room, Zach Wahls said, a doctor ignored Reger’s knowledge of her partner’s condition and ordered unnecessary treatments.

“In the eyes of the law, Jackie wasn’t family,” he said. “She was a stranger.”

That’s why marriage matters, he said.

“Marriage isn’t a political issue,” he said. “Instead, it’s a fundamental issue where families are respected and the message is love.”

Read the full article from The Sioux City Journal.

August 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm

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