Iowa View – Des Moines Register
This column originally ran in the Des Moines Register on April 6, 2009.
Iowa View – Proud Son of Same-Sex Couple: Make Civil Unions the Norm
As the son of a same-sex couple in Iowa, one of the first test-tube babies of a lesbian mother nationwide, I was elated Friday to learn that the Iowa Supreme Court had unanimously struck down the ban on same-sex marriage in Iowa.
While a majority of Iowans remain opposed to same-sex marriage, and it could be prohibited again with an amendment to the Iowa Constitution by 2011 or 2012, this decision brings Iowa the unique opportunity of setting a national, common-sense precedent.
Instead of trying to protect the right of same-sex couples to marry, which is political suicide for the fragile Democratic majority, the Iowa General Assembly ought to move to clarify the difference between marriage and civil unions. A majority of Americans, and Iowans, according to a December 2008 Newsweek Poll, support at least civil unions for same-sex couples. It would take a brave lawmaker, but one ought to propose a piece of legislation to completely remove government from the marriage process altogether, leaving a religious ceremony to religious institutions, and make civil unions, accessible by any two people, including those of the same sex, the norm for legal benefits.
Such legislation would not only satisfy strict constructionist conservatives, but would allow the benefits and consequences that we currently associate with marriage to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation.
The election of 2008 swept into office politicians who recognize the normalcy of same-sex couples and their families. It must be realized that the sex of one’s parents does not have an unusually profound effect on the life of the child.
I stand as living proof that one can be raised by a same-sex couple, and a couple plagued by the grueling trials of progressive multiple sclerosis at that, and still turn out all right. I have experienced success in speech and debate, journalism and academics, am politically involved in my community and have received acceptance to prestigious colleges across the country.
Same-sex parents are not, by definition, unfit to parent, and same-sex families are not, by definition, any more troubled than “regular” families. I have found positive male role models in my life who have set outstanding examples for my own behavior, but the strength demonstrated by my MS-stricken biological mother has been surpassed by none I have met. It is with great pride that I call myself her son. And soon, I hope, it will be with great pride that she calls her partner, Jackie, her wife.
The Iowa Supreme Court should be commended for its courage in this decision, but it must be remembered that this is not an end in and of itself. The struggle for true equality will continue, and adopting the civil-union legislation is one of the best ways to do it.
It should be noted that, while I continue to believe civil unions for all is the best way to go, as a society, we likely aren’t there yet. The burden of sparking that social change is not on the LGBTQ movement, and until we’ve reached that point, full marriage equality is the only option. We’ve tried separate but equal before in this country, and we should not make the mistake of repeating that failed experiment.