Monday, April 27, 2009

Is Fred Phelp's Family/Church Planning a Mass Suicide?

Check out this strange/ominous statement that was recently posted on one of Fred Phelp's family's/church's websites after a recent protest in Napa, California:
BECAUSE IT’S ALMOST TIME TO LEAVE…THAT’S WHY DUMMY! We are particularly urgent about it, because the time is shortly to come when we will grant you your wicked wish, Doomed america! Let us see how that is shortly now to play out, my angry little sodomite-loving friends. It’s about time for us to leave this place. When we’re done, we will leave your filthy land and be placed safely out of the reach of the horror that will then land upon you swiftly and certainly – in one hour. We pray it to be any day now, for the promises of our God are sure and certain. We finished our job in Napa County – one of the few we have left – and then went to tell the Saints of our God-blessed exploits and our joy.


We pray it to be any day now, for the promises of our God are sure and certain. We finished our job in Napa County – one of the few we have left – and then went to tell the Saints of our God-blessed exploits and our joy.
Comments from blogger Gossip Boy:
Westboro recently lost a massive lawsuit and are bordering on bankruptcy. Their protests have resulted in a backlash from parties well beyond gays and lesbians. Their dynamic leader Fred Phelps is in bad health and some claim near death. Now they want to end their mission and go be with God. When a cult like this starts talking about the end, then it’s time to move in and get the children out.
I dunno if Gossip Boy is right. This may or may not be the foreshadowing of another Jonestown massacre. Maybe they're signaling that they are scrapping their protest schedule for the rest of the year. Maybe they are moving to Iran to live among a people that punish homosexuality with death. I dunno. But it is really, really disturbing.

hat tip: Joe.My.God. and Gossip Boy

The Last Name's Stayin'

Well, sorry to disappoint, but C and I will be keeping our last names when we are legally married. That's not because our friends didn't suggest a litany of interesting/hilarious last names (e.g. "Mustang").

C and I contacted our lawyer in Illinois to ask if the name change would be recognized outside Iowa. He said no. For a name change to be recognized, he said it must occur in the county in which we presently reside.

So, rather than walk into the logistical nightmare of having illegal last names, we have decided to stick with our present names. For now.

But just you wait. Once those babies are on the way, we may be calling on you once again for your ideas :-)

Congratulations, Iowa!

Today the state of Iowa began granting marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. I've had a huge smile on my face as I've been clicking through photos of couples getting married in Iowa City, Des Moines, and Council Bluffs on the Des Moines Register website. In all, more than 260 same-sex couples applied for licenses today.

Congratulations, Iowa!

My husband and I are getting legal and religious things squared away to apply for an Iowa marriage license of our own. Iowa has no residency requirement for marriage, so we are as welcome to marry in that state as are any of its 3 million citizens.

The process begins with the two of us signing an application for the marriage license (note the new optional checkboxes to designate "bride" "groom" or "spouse"), which must be witnessed by a notary public. Since C and I only see each other on weekends, this has posed a the small problem of finding a notary available on a weekend. I pulled some strings today and contacted some people with connections; I may have tracked down a sympathetic notary public who would be willing to meet with C and I this Saturday :-)

Step two is simple: we mail the application and $35 fee to the Johnson County Clerk in Iowa City (where C's folks live) and wait 3 days for the application to be processed and an incomplete marriage license to be prepared.

The final step will take some logistics: we must travel to Iowa and be wed by an Iowan who can legally marry a couple--basically, a judge or a minister (but not a riverboat captain). We have it on good authority that the judges in Johnson County are booked solid with weddings for ~three months. So that leaves the religious option, which we are exploring. C and I were married in our Quaker meeting in Urbana, Illinois. We have visited the Quaker meeting in Iowa City on occasion when visiting C's parents. Today, C wrote to the Iowa City meeting asking if the clerk of their meeting would be willing to sign an Iowa marriage license for us--we would of course (as is the custom among Quakers) first open a channel of communication between our Quaker meeting and theirs so that our meeting could verify that we satisfied all components of the Clearness process for marriage. We may also be required to supply the Iowa City meeting with a copy of the Quaker marriage certificate which was signed by all who attended our wedding.

This step could prove thorny. Quaker meetings act in unanimity; if there is any opposition to an action, it is avoided. I am happy to say that my marriage to C was approved unanimously by our local Quaker meeting. However, the Iowa City meeting may disapprove our marriage if any in the meeting oppose it. We will have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I continue to smile at the photos of the happy couples tying the knot today (and every day after today!) in Iowa. Congratulations!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

30 Days with the Gays

This past weekend my husband and I found ourselves riveted to the laptop screen as we watched the following two episodes of 30 Days on Hulu. For the uninitiated, 30 Days pairs individuals or groups of people with opposing views on a particular issue--gun control, for example--for a month at a time and watches to see how, if at all, exposure to the opposing point of view mellows the people involved.

The following two episodes pair people with opposing views on gay America in general and the adoption of children by gay couples in particular. Truly fascinating. I dare you to watch just the first 5 minutes of one of the videos and see if you can pull yourself away ;-)

Season 1 Episode 4: Straight Man in a Gay World

An evangelical national guardsman from rural Michigan moves in for a month with a single gay guy in his apartment in San Francisco's Castro district.

Season 3 Episode 4: Same Sex Parenting

A Mormon mother who strongly opposes gay adoption moves in for a month with a gay couple and their 4 adopted boys.

hat tip: our friend Selly

Beautiful. Just Beautiful

In case you haven't already seen sweet, middle-aged, never-been-kissed Susan Boyle sing on "Britain's Got Talent," you gotta follow this link (YouTube has disabled embedding the video). This woman, her story, and her surprising voice are amazing: I promise that watching the video will do your soul good. I smiled so broadly I thought my face would fall off :-)

hat tip: my buddy Andy

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

In three weeks Iowa will begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. My husband and I are making plans to take a day off of work and visit the Recorder's office in Johnson County, Iowa (where he grew up and where his family presently resides) and apply for a license of our own. We've downloaded and reviewed the Application to Marry in Iowa, which has brought up an interesting matter: what to do with our last names?

(click image to enlarge)

C and I have actually had this conversation before--several times, in fact. We have previously concluded that we would eventually take a common last name. Our reason for doing this is to make things simpler for our children. But what last name to take? His? Mine? A combination of the two? Something completely new?

We've tossed around a fair number of ideas, but haven't ever settled on one. We decided we would postpone the decision until such a time as we were able to legally marry. After all, it's much less expensive to change your name through marriage--it's all rolled up into the marriage license fee. :-)

Now that we're suddenly able to marry, the decision is upon us again. What name should we take?

Any ideas?


YAAAAAAAHOOOOOOOOO! The Iowa Supreme Court's decision was unanimous in favor of marriage equality!

I just can't articulate how excited I am about this decision. I almost hyperventilated when I got the news at work yesterday. Unanimous! Iowa! Marriage equality right here in the hear to the Midwest!

An excerpt from the decision released by the court yesterday:
Iowa Code section 595.2 is unconstitutional because the County has been unable to identify a constitutionally adequate justification for excluding plaintiffs from the institution of civil marriage... Consequently, the language in Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman must be stricken from the statute, and the remaining statutory language must be interpreted and applied in a manner allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil marriage.
And check out these four succinct, powerful words that conclude the decision:
All justices concur.
Wow. A unanimous ruling. This was no fluke.

I should have had more faith in Iowa. It has a storied history of recognizing and repairing social wrongs long before the Federal government does. Consider this joint statement released yesterday by the Iowa Senate majority leader and speaker of the Iowa House:
In 1839, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected slavery in a decision that found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the Civil War decided the issue.

In 1868, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated “separate but equal” schools had no place in Iowa, 85 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.

In 1873, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against racial discrimination in public accommodations, 91 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.

In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law.

In the case of recognizing loving relationships between two adults, the Iowa Supreme Court is once again taking a leadership position on civil rights.

Today, we congratulate the thousands of Iowans who now can express their love for each other and have it recognized by our laws.
Gay and lesbian couples will be permitted to marry in Iowa in just three short weeks. Three weeks! As the state has no residency requirement to marry, that means my husband and I--who live right next door in Illinois--will be welcome to go and receive legal recognition of our marriage. We're so excited!

We're eloping to Iowa!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Iowa Court Ruling: The Website to Watch

Wanna know the Iowa Supreme Court decision as soon as possible? The Court announced today that it expects its decision will be posted on the Court's website before 8:30am (Central Time) tomorrow morning. You can bet I'll be refreshing the following page every 30 seconds while I'm at work tomorrow!

hat tip: Joe.My.God.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Call for Participants in Another (Cool) Study of Ex-Gay Ministry

Head's up, everybody: I've just learned of another study of people who have participated or currently are participating in ex-gay ministries. This one is being conducted by Stacia J. Creek, a doctoral student in sociology at Southern Illinois University.

However, this study differs from the one I previously discussed in several distinctive--and cool--ways:
  1. First, participants for this study can be anyone who has participated in or is currently participating in an ex-gay ministry in the United States. There is no limitation that participants need to presently identify as LGBT.

  2. Second, participation in this study does not consist of completing a questionnaire. Rather, data for this study is collected through a series of interviews--in person interviews. Stacia will be criss-crossing the U.S. between mid-April and July to conduct interviews with participants. (Hint hint: act now if you'd like to be included in the study so she can add you to her travel plans!) More information on the interviews:
    Subjects involved in the study will be asked a series of questions that will take one to two hours to answer. These confidential interviews will be audio-taped and I will take every reasonable step to protect your identity. Participation in this study is completely voluntary and you may stop participating at any point during the interview.
  3. Third, this is a sociology study. Stacia's research interests are a bit different than you might expect. In her own words:
  4. I am interested in how individuals connected to religious movements "do" identity work through storytelling. I believe that all human beings are story-telling animals, and that these stories are essential to the process of sorting out who we are. I've opened my research to include a range of experiences- including individuals still involved with the ex-gay movement, people who have rejected their experiences completely to become GLBT in identity and behavior, and individuals who are GLBT and celibate. I should note that I am less interested in some of the more political baggage associated with ex-gay research (such as "Are they really ex-gay?" etc) and more interested in the complex interactions between people and religious movements.

    I suppose what I'm specifically interested in is how people take the stories they learn from an ex-gay ministry and incorporate them into their lives and senses of self. I am looking at the ways that people appropriate, modify, subvert and reject those stories. Finally, I hope to gain an understanding of how individuals' religious backgrounds complicate their use of those stories.

    I'm also very open to input about my work from subjects. So, if there is a question you think I should be asking during the course of our interview, please let me know. Additionally, if you are interested in reviewing what I write down the road, I will be more than happy to send you what I've written. I will also take any feedback you wish to give in regards to the direction I've taken
Sounds really cool. I've been communicating with Stacia about setting up an interview with me here in Peoria. Interested in participating yourself? Just send Stacia an email. You can use her university email address, but she seems to prefer that you contact her at her gmail address.

Hat tip: A Musings