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Waterloo resident: I relish my choices, and want them for others
Submitted by j on Thu, 2010-05-13 09:34
This story by Waterloo resident Beth Cox originally appeared as a guest editorial in the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier on May 5, 2010.
I am a woman who likes men; I am straight. I am feminine when I want to be feminine, but sometimes I want to be a tomboy. I want to wear army green shorts and ride my bike with reckless abandon. I feel like kicking and punching to let out frustration. I like to choose to be the breadwinner or stay home with my children. I can be the rock of the family if I want to be. I can serve a four-course meal, just after replacing the light fixture. Right away, let me change from my dress to play clothes.
I relish this choice. I do not want to be put in a box of Barbie proportions, just like many men don’t enjoy being labeled too fat, skinny, weak or short. People are fooled to believe they should be darker-skinned, lighter-skinned, and tighter- skinned, when really what’s most important? That children are fed, clothed and educated, and that we take care of one another, family, friends and neighbors. I choose to rise up against limiting human potential and embrace the diversity of life.
This is why the issue of marriage equality in Iowa shakes me to the core. The excitement of recognition of Iowan’s rights and freedoms, the hope of equality and fairness in our state and the shameful fear tactics used by some religious groups such as the Iowa Family Policy Center equally shake me to the core. This month, the center claimed that gay marriage must be overturned because homosexual activity is more dangerous than smoking. Not only is this argument scientifically unfounded, it publically and openly perpetuates a stereotype that is misleading, offensive and antiquated in strategy.
Loving partners and families seek legal rights to protect themselves in the case of accident or illness. Iowans from rural and urban areas seek recognition and acceptance of their commitment to their partners and families. For gay or straight couples, marriage represents commitment and dedication to one another. By reversing state recognition of love and commitment, gay Iowans become inferior, second-class citizens. It is a form of discrimination that creates an artificial hierarchy of the value of Iowa citizens.
We’ve seen this before in American history. Women, African Americans, and American immigrants were denied rights, and lies were perpetuated claiming them to be unintelligent, immoral, bad parents or spread disease. In an attempt to uphold tradition and preserve the powerful elite, the American majority stifled minority populations with actions that today are considered regrettable and morally wrong. In over 60 years, laws and attitudes changed to reflect acceptance, offer freedom and show remorse for wrongdoing. In the case of marriage equality in Iowa, we find ourselves at year one.
So now it is up to Iowans. We can choose to accept broad stereotypes and fear tactics that deny freedom, acceptance and recognition. Or we can foster fairness, and choose to lead the country by example, with openness, kindness and a commitment to equality. People once told my grandmother that she should stay home, wear a dress and keep her opinions to herself. She didn’t buy it, and today I thrive because of her decision. In honor of her persistence, I will not buy the stereotypes and lies, but will speak up and act so that my family, friends and neighbors will thrive. You may choose to scream it out loud or quietly keep it to yourself, but when it counts, please protect individual rights and fairness by supporting marriage equality.