February 12th is National Freedom to Marry Day. Since 2004, as discriminatory constitutional amendments were pushed in numerous states throughout the nation, Louisiana citizens voted for an anti-relationship recognition constitutional amendment which passed and wrote discrimination into Louisiana's constitution. State advocacy groups are working to both repeal such discrimination and end the exclusion of same-sex couples and their families from marriage. Even before then, the federal government passed in 1996 the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which federally prohibits same-sex marriage.
But numerous efforts are underway around the country to permanently repeal these discriminatory laws that treat members of the LGBT community as second-class citizens. Iowa is on the front lines of this civil rights battle. On April 3, 2009, the Supreme Court of Iowa struck down discrimination against the LGBT community and ruled that
the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification. There is no material fact, genuinely in dispute, that can affect this determination. We have a constitutional duty to ensure equal protection of the law.
Yet, that doesn't stop those who have a problem with the LGBT community seeking same-sex marriage. On February 1, 2011, the Iowa House of Representatives voted 62-37 to approve House Joint Resolution 6, which calls for a referendum on a constitutional amendment recognizing only marriages between one man and one woman. But their vote was not cast until opponents of HJR6 had a few things to say, like Mr. Zach Wahls. Wahls is a 19 year old college student, Eagle Scout, small business owner and the son of a same-sex couple. His upstanding demeanor and articulate defense of same-sex relationships makes a bottom-line case for marriage equality...
"In my 19 years not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple. And do you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character."As a gay man raised by three heterosexual parents, the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character. And neither does sexual orientation have an effect on anyone else's character. The legal recognition of same-sex marriage throughout the United States is a civil rights issue we all need to defend. Defending civil rights, including marriage equality for the LGBT community, is a reflection of character.