Jun 26, 2014

State of Mine

Yesterday was surreal. When I woke up, I did not expect that hours later, there would be gay couples legally marrying in my state.

Indiana is a smallish, fairly conservative state in the midwestern USA. Back in February, our legislature was debating whether or not to have hoosiers (Indiana folk) vote on an amendment to our constitution that would officially define marriage as a man and a woman in our law. We already had a statute ban of gay marriage, but they were pushing to get it "carved in stone". There was disagreement on the wording, and whether or not to prohibit civil unions as well, so the amendment was temporarily pushed back on the agenda. 

In the meantime, several gay couples, most of whom were legally married in other states (although their marriage wasn't recognized here in their home state) were challenging the statute banning gay marriage in court. Their cases progressed until they ended up in front of a federal court judge, and, surprise surprise, he found that it was unconstitutional to prohibit these couples from marrying, or having their marriage recognized in their own state.

I have seen this happen in so many states before us, but I didn't think it'd actually happen here. And now.

And so, almost immediately after the judge declared his ruling, just like that, couples were lining up at county clerk offices filling out their paperwork and conducting short wedding ceremonies on the spot. UN. REAL. Excitement, lines forming, confusion and shock in some of the smaller Indiana counties who weren't ready to jump on board. Only a little over 30 hours later, hundreds of couples have married, and most of the counties have started issuing licenses.

Indiana was even added into the Wikipedia article about gay marriage in the US as the 20th state where it is legal to marry!

Local businesses and supporters cheered the happy couples, and overall there's just been this amazing, supportive feeling. I am overwhelmed... and kind of in shock and disbelief. Katrina & I enjoyed a celebratory date night last night, and as we were getting ready to come home when--I kid you not--we looked up into the sky to see a RAINBOW.

dinner at Delicia (she's pretty darn cute...)
rainbow cupcakes at the Flying Cupcake

There are, of course, some very unhappy people with this turn of events. And the government of Indiana will be appealing the ruling and trying to get a "stay" on it until then (meaning that same-sex marriage licenses would be on hold until after the appeals process). They may end up delaying it, but we are not going back now. Twenty states and counting, and likely that another case will end up before the Supreme court again as soon as next year... and this time they won't be able to avoid the question of: "does denying an individual the freedom to marry violate their 14th amendment constitutional rights?"

People are struggling to come up with legitimate arguments against marriage equality. It's hard to imagine the highest court in the land disagreeing with all of the judges ruling on these cases.

So, although there may be some rain on our parades, we see only the rainbows. We will joyously celebrate the victory of equality in our little state (alongside Utah, who also celebrated a victory yesterday!) and look forward to a future when this will all be history.

I will leave you with a link to an absolutely stunning Indianapolis lesbian wedding from a local photographer's blog. Just....wow. Enjoy!

*UPDATE* The Indiana attorney general was granted a "stay" 2 days after gay marriages began, putting them temporarily to a halt until after appeals process. Poopheads.

Jun 17, 2014

The Commitment: Some Thoughts on (Gay) Marriage

Wedding season is upon us. I don't know about you, but this summer includes no less than 5 weddings for Katrina & I to attend.

With my job, I see all the ins-and-outs of the wedding industry. The good, the bad, and the horribly wasteful, self-indulgent and ugly. Couples getting married for all the wrong reasons. Brides throwing fits over their centerpieces or ice sculptures. Grooms so completely uninvolved the bride might as well be marrying herself. Family's fighting, drama escalating, and people going into massive debt all for a big show.

That's the very negative view of it all. And on top of that, same-sex couples fighting for equality in the states where they live and love (19 states with legal gay marriage and counting!)

You would think that with all of that, I would hate weddings. You would think I'd resent marriage because I am unable to marry in the state I call home.

But I don't.

While I admit the wedding industry has gone off the deep end a bit, and while I find the fight for equality frustrating, I see through it all and feel hope. I still value marriage - I think that commitment matters. And the wedding itself is a way to share and celebrate your commitment with those closest to you.

I don't know how many weddings I've been to over my lifetime. But recently I attended my first gay wedding. Two friends of ours, also from Indiana, decided to do a destination wedding in CA where they could legally marry. It was a small group, not more than 20 guests, at a quiet resort, with a simple ceremony, a dinner afterwards--beautiful words, many tears of joy, and lots of laughter. Nothing big or pretentious. Just two beautiful brides, very much in love and content to say their vows in front of a few friends and family members.

I don't know if I've ever witnessed so much love. And god, did I cry like a baby. This is what weddings should be about. This is love. This is worth fighting for.

Katrina & I did some wood-burning artwork for the brides.

A few weeks ago I read "The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family" by Dan Savage (sex columnist and podcast host). An excellent book--it's a very honest look at what it means to commit your life to someone in marriage. Written in 2004 when George Bush is re-elected for a second term, Massachusetts is still the lone state where same-sex couples can marry, and the future of marriage equality is looking very grim.

In a nearly 10-year relationship with the love of his life, whom he has adopted a son with, Savage has reached a point in his life where he's genuinely considering marriage for the first time. His writing is personal and truthful, as he takes us along for this ride of whether or not to make "the commitment", as a gay man and father of a six-year-old. He explores what marriage has always meant in the past for his family and for mankind in general, he contemplates the why behind traditions, ceremonies and signed pieces of paper. It had me laughing, crying and thinking. It had me reflecting how much has changed for the U.S. in the 10 years since he wrote this.

I'd recommend this book to anyone truly, whether you're considering marriage or a skeptic of it, debating gay marriage (for or against), or simply just looking to become a more empathetic human, it's a great read.

"So when are you two getting married?" Katrina and I got asked the question repeatedly throughout the wedding weekend with our friends. For some reason we were the target couple, everyone was overflowing with happiness at the wedding, and happy weddings just make you want more happy weddings I guess.

I have different responses to this question, varying from "we'll see..." with a smile to a more serious response that might involve legality of marriage in Indiana, Katrina's internal struggle with labels and acceptance (she's not completely "out"). The truth? I would like that, someday. Katrina's not there yet. For now, I am content to just be together.

I don't care about a wedding, I don't care about "being married". It's not about any of that for me. It's about her. It's about making that commitment to each other. It's about going through life, bonded to this irreplaceable person you've found, treated by the world not just as two individuals, but an unbreakable pair. Marriages demand respect in our society. Making those vows still has significance. You are recognized as not just "a lover", but as family, the closest possible family, to the person you love the most. You are two halves of a whole.

P.S. If you're finding yourself involved or interested in the bible/homosexuality/morality of gay marriage debate, I recommend checking out this message from a Southern Baptist pastor, Danny Cortez, to his congregation. It is very genuine and thought-provoking, well said and worth the 60 minutes it takes to listen to it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqYvkVqVLFo

Jun 8, 2014

San Diego Baby!

To say that we loved San Diego is a bit of an understatement. Throughout our week there we periodically had conversations along the lines of: "when are we moving here? how will we transport the cats?" Maybe it's because I was born in CA, but I've always felt a connection to the ocean and the west coast. I can't believe this is the first time I've been there since I was a baby! I was lovestruck. The ocean views. The warm and friendly people. The weather. The sun. The sunsets. The fact that gay couples can be legally married there.

It was the busiest vacation I've ever had. Katrina and I didn't want to waste a single moment there. We went to bed late and got up early, scheduling out our days in order to maximize our limited time. Our trip also included attending our first ever gay wedding (beautiful!) and a road trip down to Mexico to meet Katrina's relatives (unforgettable), but I'll be doing separate posts on those topics.

The best way to tell you about our time is to show you!

we've arrived!
La Jolla, Scripps park
lunch in Old Town
Coronado hotel
feet in the sand and ocean at Coronado beach
coffee and exploring Hillcrest (the gayborhood of San Diego)

dinner in Little Italy
hiking at Cedar Creek Falls
and finding the Devil's Punchbowl
watching the sunset from Sunset Cliffs
and stealing a kiss

sushi at The Joint in Ocean Beach
The view from Palomar Mountain (smoke in the distance from a wildfire)
I loved the big trees
my little bird nerd
picnic by Doane pond
the beautiful Balboa park

I love the architecture
playing in the fountain
Dr. Seuss trees in the cactus gardens
always take time to stop at fruit & vegetable stands--CA has the best produce!
Gaslamp district
Belmont park
La Jolla cove!
We did a kayaking tour and loved it

passing by Dr. Seuss' house
sea lions
snorkeling at La Jolla
one fish, two fish...
underwater selfie
the long climb down to Black's Beach, scary as hell but worth it
Black's Beach is the largest nude beach in North America
being completely nude and swimming in the ocean was such a freeing experience!

great way to end our time in San Diego

I am the luckiest.

Looking through these photos floods me with so my happiness. I feel so lucky I got to go on this trip, and I'm thinking "why didn't I do this sooner??" This was Katrina and I's first big trip together, aside from our little road trips to Toronto and Louisville. It's the first time we've flown anywhere together in all of our six years! I loved traveling with her. I think it made us both realize we want to do more of this. There will always be excuses not to go, but in the end... money is just money and life is short, let's enjoy every moment and explore together. Experiences like these are priceless.
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