by Fred Ketteman -
Special to the SGN
On Friday, June 12, 2009, Seattleites Matthew Haggerty and Marc Stiles were legally wed on the steps of the Old Capitol in Iowa City, Iowa.
Coincidentally, this building is where the Iowa Constitution was drafted - the document that ultimately led to the April 3, 2009 unanimous ruling of the Iowa Supreme Court that said marriage cannot be restricted to one man and one woman. This ruling upheld "the constitutional rights of all people, as expressed by the promise of equal protection for all."
Matthew and Marc were joined on their day of joy by friends and relatives from as near as Iowa City and as far as Seattle. Those in attendance were both of their moms, plus Matthew's stepdad, Larry Anderson, who waved the rainbow flag, three of Matthew's five siblings, both of Marc's sisters, as well as aunts, an uncle, cousins and friends from throughout the Midwest.
Matthew's cousin's son, Brady, scattered flower petals up the main sidewalk to the Old Capitol and onto the ceremony site overlooking the Iowa River Valley. All attendees wore the marriage equality white knot ribbon.
Originally, Marc and Matthew had planned to wed in California this spring, but then a predominance of California voters - who apparently don't want everyone to be as happy as they are in their model marriages - quashed that when they passed Prop. 8.
So, why Iowa? Consider the nature of Iowa, a state that has always been ahead of the curve. In 1839, Iowa rejected slavery. In 1851, the state removed the ban on interracial marriage, more than 100 years before the United States did. Iowa gave women the right to vote in 1920, struck down all sodomy laws in 1978, and adopted Gay civil rights in 2007. Iowa has always been a remarkably progressive state with a record of judicial and legislative firsts or near firsts, and was the state that successfully launched a certain senator from Illinois on the road to the White House.
Plus, Iowa is Marc's home state. He said, "When the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the ban on Gay marriage was unconstitutional, we knew right away that we would be going back to Iowa to get legally hitched. It took some planning, but with the assistance of the helpful Johnson County clerks, we were easily able to line up a magistrate to perform the ceremony: James Martinek."
With help from their families, they found a great B&B, the Golden Haug, and an excellent restaurant, Atlas, for the post-ceremony party. A downpour conveniently held off until after the outdoor wedding was over and all were dryly tucked into the Atlas' arms - this meteorological miracle was the doing of Matthew and Marc's late fathers, according to Matthew's mom, Sharon
Gay canon frequently cites Dorothy's little talk with Toto about not being in Kansas anymore, but current events might have Dorothy referencing a new Oz: "I think we must be in Iowa!"
Matthew is a longtime LMP who has massaged his trade in Seattle for the past 21 years. He is also a veteran member of Seattle Men's Chorus and is a well-known hugger. Marc is currently covering architecture and engineering for the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce.
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