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Donna Red Wing

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Moving Forward: My Journey to Iowa

Posted: 05/31/2012 4:43 pm

June is almost here and that means one thing: wedding season. What strikes me most about this month is the cultural consciousness of weddings. We see advertisements for flowers and Facebook photos of the wedding dress or tuxedos. We hear countdowns to the ceremony and talk of the amazing food and music. We celebrate the love between two people and commit to supporting them in their marriage as witnesses to their bond. There is a common language around weddings. We all speak it.

That is because marriage means something; it matters. People know what it means when you say you are married and they understand what it takes to stand up in front of your friends and family and make a lifelong commitment to one another.

Whenever we attend a wedding, we make a promise to support that loving, committed couple. As a community, we need to support all loving and committed couples, including same-sex couples, who want to share in the joys and triumphs as well as the sorrows and challenges of marriage. We do this because love, and family and commitment are all things that strengthen our community. When we talk about weddings and marriage, these are the fundamental values we talk about.

Last month, North Carolina voted in record numbers for Amendment One, a ban on relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Voters sent a strong message to our families. The Colorado legislature sent a similar message to its LGBT constituency when it refused to allow the civil union bill up for a vote. And, thankfully, in the same week, President Obama publicly expressed his support for marriage for all couples. And we continue to gain ground with the ruling by the US Federal Court of Appeals that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, and with the marriage lawsuit filed by our colleagues and friends at Lambda Legal and the ACLU in Illinois.

We are right in the middle of the civil rights movement of this generation. Every week there are successes and victories in cities and states across this country. Given so much movement on this issue from coast to coast just this year, it is undeniable that we are witness to a movement unfolding. It is inspiring and terrifying at the same time.

I think of this as my partner, Sumitra and I prepare to move to Iowa in a few weeks. After more than 25 years together, we need to be where our relationship is honored and respected, where we can enjoy the same rights and responsibilities of any other family. And we need to be where the heart of this movement beats: Iowa.

I will be taking on the role of Executive Director at One Iowa and will work with an extraordinary team towards full equality for all LGBT persons. As Executive Director, I will lead an organization that has worked tirelessly over the past seven years to make Iowa a more inclusive and more accepting place to live, while it has passionately defended the gains that the LGBT community has made. Because of the work of this organization, Iowa was the third state in the nation to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. And in spite of ongoing attacks by in-state and well-funded out of state opposition groups, One Iowa and allies continue to protect and defend Iowa families.

It is fitting that I will be packing up my home and my life in Colorado in June, the wedding month, to head east to Iowa to defend marriage equality.

And while it is tough to leave and start brand new, I know that this is where I need to be.

 
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