Monday, April 27, 2009

Congratulations Iowa!

A big mazel tov to the approximately 360 gay and lesbian couples who received marriage licenses today in Iowa!

Here's the Iowa Supreme Court decision in Varnum v. Brien that made the day possible. And here's a full report from the Des Moines Register.

Yes, there were some protesters but you know, it's not about them. It's about these happy people:

Cedar Rapids:

Lolita Linn Blaha, 44, and Lisa Harbit, 43, of North Liberty got to the Johnson County office at 7:10 a.m. and were first in line.

They began dating in high school but, in the words of Harbit, “sacrificed” their happiness to appease family and community members in their small hometowns. Now, more than two decades later and after reuniting a few years ago, they will be married.

“I can’t even tell you” how it feels, an emotional Harbit said after filling out the marriage license application. “It’s surreal. It’s an emotion you can’t describe.”

Maeve Clarke, 44, and Jodi Tate, 40, of Iowa City, partners for about a dozen years, were among those celebrating who later applied for a marriage license. They were joined by their two young sons. The legal rights marriage offers is important to them as a family.

“I guess it feels like it’s going to give our relationship validation but also extra protection for our family,” said Clarke, adding that they plan to marry on Friday.

Council Bluffs:

Mike Yowell, 53, and Hersh Rodasky, 58, of Council Bluffs arrived at the courthouse at about 7:15 a.m. to get their license.

The couple says they have been together for 28 years and have an adopted daughter and two grandchildren.

"Now we’ll have the protection of the law for our family. That’s what’s most important to us," Yowell said.

David Jones, 36, and Thomas Clark, 39, both of Council Bluffs, have been together for 14 years in June. They were ecstatic after filing their marriage license application Monday.

"We wanted to stand up and be counted," Clark said. "We’re the guys next door."

The men said that while they don’t have children, it’s important that if something happens to one of them that the other can make decisions.

Jones and Clark plan to be married at 11 a.m. Thursday by a district court judge at the courthouse.


Terry Wilkerson sat in a ball cap, eating French fries — with tears in his eyes.

It’s finally sinking in. He’s getting married.

On June 6, their 18th anniversary, 43-year-old Wilkerson will finally marry his partner, 46-year-old Russell Mentzer. All of their friends and family will be there.

And it will be legal.

“It’s incredible,” he said at the Des Moines-based One Iowa “Marriage Day Celebration” party, held Monday night at Jersey Grille in Davenport.

A small crowd gathered in the restaurant’s upstairs meeting room for the event, eating dinner and talking about the historic day: The first time gay couples could get marriage licenses in the state.

Pat Bates, 51, and her partner, Jennifer Bird, 40, both of Davenport, said they picked up a license today, with plans to marry in July. They have been together five years.

“People don’t realize how excited we are to have the opportunity to do something everyone else has been allowed to do already,” Bates said.

Des Moines:

In Des Moines, Lori Blachford was among the people applying for marriage licenses. As television cameras surrounded the dozens of couples in line, she talked about how life with her partner of 25 years, Karen Utke, is going to change.

“We’re living the married life, same as our parents did, painfully and traditionally boring,” said Blachford, who is 45.

Denny Schrock and Patrick Phillips-Schrock wore tuxedos to the recorder’s office. They’ve been together five years, and had a commitment ceremony three years ago at the Unitarian Universalist church in Des Moines.

“I didn’t think this would happen in my lifetime,” the 58-year-old Phillips-Schrock, a retired high school French teacher who is originally from Jefferson but now lives in Urbandale, said. “It’s incredible. In Iowa, of all places!”


Monday would be the day that Kentaindra Scarver and Veronica Spann would bring their eight year relationship full circle. The two women arrived at the Dubuque Courthouse early in the morning before appearing in open court to receive a waiver from Judge Monica Ackley around 10 a.m.

“We knew we were partners for life but to legally have it printed on paper; that’s what means so much to us,” said Scarver.

The two women were relieved to finally have the legal title of a married couple.

“For me it is the legal things that heterosexuals have like simple visits to the doctor for the kids. Those things mean the world to us,” said Spann.

Mason City:

Dean Genth of Mason City was waiting outside the Cerro Gordo County Recorder’s Office at 7 a.m. today — the first day same-sex couples could apply for a marriage license in the state of Iowa.

Genth wanted to be first in line to file papers to marry his partner Gary Swenson, also of Mason City.

“The overwhelming emotion got to me when I got to the counter,” Genth said fighting back tears. “I’ve been talking to them for the last couple of weeks about coming here and doing this. Gary’s not here with me so I thought I’d just be fine but all of a sudden the tears came. It’s just a big moment.”

Sioux City:

Around 9:15 a.m. Chrissy and Annette McCalmont, of Sioux City, descended the stairs from the second floor of the courthouse holding hands, and walked into the recorder's office to file for their marriage license.

"Fourteen years is a long time to be waiting," Chrissy McCalmont said. "It's been legal in our hearts all along."

Chrissy McCalmont said the two met when she was 29 and Annette was 19. They had a wedding ceremony in July of 1996, but their commitment to each other was not legally recognized.

"It's hard to love someone so much and be denied the right to be legal," McCalmont said standing in the courthouse atrium in front of a several TV news cameras.


Amanda said...

Those are some really sweet stories. Thanks for sharing them.

Esther said...

You know, there's a lot I could have written but I just thought, these couples say it a lot better!