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Drake professor: Celebrate marriage equality, but work is not over
Submitted by j on Mon, 2010-05-03 15:18
by Claire Anderson, One Iowa intern
Drake professor Jennifer Harvey and her wife Chris already considered themselves married when the Iowa Supreme Court made their historic decision supporting marriage equality.
"It was awesome," Jen said of her and Chris's commitment ceremony while coloring with their 18-month-old baby.
"Of course, it wasn’t recognized by the state, but it made our families take us more seriously. Making a public vow before loved ones invests a relationship with a serious quality. It changed our relationship in a way anyone’s would change after marriage: It’s a risk to say you will commit to one person for the rest of you life, but you do it because you know they’re the one."
Because of her and Chris’s emotional connection with the first wedding, Jen doesn’t believe the state's legal recognition has changed their relationship -- they were already committed to each other. However, when choosing a place to raise their family, it made a huge difference.
"The decision made us feel better about the state we live in," said Jennifer. "It made Chris’s adoption of our child much easier – and less expensive. Heterosexuals adopt their spouse’s biological children all the time, and it has been made quite easy for them. To complete this process in a same-sex relationship, however, has proved to be much more time consuming; you have to overcome many more obstacles without a legal marriage certificate."
Before teaching religion and ethics at Drake, Jennifer was a pastor and though she is not as active as she once was in the ministry, she has had the opportunity to use her religious status in remarkable ways. Just last year, Jennifer performed a wedding for two of her committed friends.
Legal recognition for marriage in Iowa is amazing for couples like Jen and Chris. Stories like theirs affirm the Supreme Court decision to recognize equal marriage'. However, "marriage equality doesn’t mean everyone’s rights are suddenly perfectly embodied," as Jen warns. "While celebrating marriage equality, we have to realize there is still much work to do."