Why I am against HJR6
A half hour ago, the Iowa House of Representatives voted 62-37 on HJR6, which would add the following amendment to the Iowa State Constitution:
Full text here.
Last night there was a public hearing on the issue. Over 400 people attended and 120 people slated to speak. Not even half that many were able to speak due to time constraints. 60% against the amendment, 40% for. Read a recap, see video cips of the speakers, and read a quote from my husband here.
The Iowa House vote is a first step in a long series of steps it would take for the amendment to become part of the constitution of the state of Iowa. It must pass the Iowa Senate as well and be signed by the governor. It must then happen again: not this year, not next year, but during the next elected Iowa legislature. Then and only then can the amendment be voted on by the people of Iowa.
At the hearing last night, not a single speaker for the amendment did not reference God and/or the Bible. Many quoted it. One young man declared that gays should be put to death. The vast majority referenced the Supreme Court decision as something done by activist judges and demanded that this was their right. Many same sex couples spoke, and many broke down into tears as they did so, outright pleading for the representatives not to vote to take away their marriages. Allies and grandparents and even the children of same-sex couples spoke passionately for the amendment’s demise as well.
Sixty-two of Iowa’s elected representatives, including two Democrats, voted for HJR6.
I was one of the 120 people signed up to speak last night, one of the 60% against, and I was one of the great majority of speakers who didn’t get to speak because we ran out of time. I promised several people I would blog what I would have said, had there been time. I will ask you if you are so moved to donate to One Iowa. They are our "thin blue line" (in Iowa, blue is the color for equality; we wore blue last night) in this fight, and what they need is money. I have plans to do some raffles and giveaways with them as the beneficiaries later this year, but there’s no question that they need as much as they can get at all times.
Following are my prepared remarks. Retweet, reblog, repost, whatever you like.
As a wife, a parent, a friend, and a native citizen of the state of Iowa, I am against House Joint Resolution 6. This proposed amendment to our state constitution denies individual human rights and advances prejudice instead of protecting the humanity and dignity of all Iowa’s citizens.
I have been happily married for now almost thirteen years. I married my partner ignorant of all the protections that union would give me. I never considered that in twelve years I would have chronic health issues not allowing me to work full time, that I would be dependent on his financial support and his health insurance, that we would need to consolidate our student loans in the ongoing dance of the family budget. Every day of my life my marriage gives me legal security and protection, most of which I never stop to think about.
House Joint Resolution 6 would take that security and protection from all same-sex couples in Iowa and deny them that protection in the future.
My marriage has given me emotional and spiritual security. When I go to the hospital too in pain and confused to articulate for myself, my partner’s declaration “this is my wife” immediately allows me to turn the situation over to him, not just legally but emotionally, because “wife” and “husband” are terms we all understand. It doesn’t matter what my religious or political beliefs are: when my husband says, “my wife” or I say “my husband,” his claim on me and mine on him are never questioned. All of society acknowledges my partnership, often smiling at me and welcoming me as I am introduced as “wife.”
House Joint Resolution 6 would take away that security and protection from all same-sex couples in Iowa and deny them that protection in the future.
My daughter is nine. Many of her adult friends and mentors are gay, and most importantly to her, some of the parents of her friends are gay. At this moment, in fact, she is being cared for by a family friend who happens to be gay. My daughter views “gay” as simply a descriptive and not a derogatory term. In fact, in her experience “gay” describes some of the best people she knows. She was an attendant in the wedding of two beautiful women who have adopted four children–siblings–from the foster care system, taking them from what I can only describe as a life of horror and giving them more security, discipline, and love than most parents, gay or straight, could ever provide. My daughter has heard of this proposed amendment, and she has some questions for you.
Why do you want to make my friends’ moms not married? Why don’t you want Brandt to get married? Are you going to make my mom and dad not married too?
How fortunate I am that my orientation pleases the groups that long for this potential amendment. How fortunate I am that no one will vote on my marriage. With one known exception, every legislator who would vote on this resolution will never have his or her sacred and legal unions to a spouse questioned. The great majority of the citizens of Iowa who would vote on this amendment will also never have their marriages questioned, and yet many of them are here demanding the right to vote on the health, happiness, and protection of strangers.
Do you understand the depth of disconnect between the most active of these advocates who cry, “let us vote on other people’s marriages” and what that vote would mean? Do you know that at the committee hearing last week, to show they were not hateful, these advocates handed out cookies to those who came to support equality? Dwell on that a moment. “I want to divorce you from your spouse. I want to deny you legal and emotional protection. I want to vote on whether or not you deserve to have what I take for granted. But I don’t hate you. Here’s a cookie.”
Tell me. How many of you would take a cookie in exchange for your marriage? Would you like people who would offer such a choice to you to vote on your marriage?
I am here today not as an advocate for a lobby group or a special interest group. I am here as an Iowan. A mother. A wife. A friend. I am here for my friends Jan and Sarah. I am here for Mark and Terry. I am here for Brandt, and Brent, and Kyl, and Ed, and James, and Chris, and many more Iowans–more than I have time to name. I am here for my daughter. I am here for my daughter’s friends. I am here for those I know and for those I do not know. I am here because there is no difference between my marriage and that of a same-sex couple, excepting that same-sex couples have an extra burden: wondering when people who don’t know them might try to take their marriage away.
I was born in Iowa. This is my home, and I am proud of our values, of our history of equality. Iowa is better than this. In Iowa, we may have our differences, but we help our neighbor, we do our work, and we respect each other. Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain. The rights not of some or those we vote to be “acceptable” but the rights of every single Iowan.
Do not pass this resolution. Do not make our state about bigotry and prejudice instead of respect. Do not take away the marriages of my friends. Do not turn my marriage into a special right only the “acceptable” Iowans can enjoy.