Wednesday evening, Tawn called me. He had just left dinner with a friend and a severe rash had appeared on his torso, so he decided to head directly for the emergency room. He asked me to meet him there.
In the end, the doctor was able to treat the rash and suspects it may be a previously unrecognized food allergy. Tawn is fine. But while I was sitting in the emergency room, I realized that we’ve got to get serious about completing powers of attorney for each other as well as our wills. Had a hospital stay been necessary or decisions of medical care been required, our marriage would not be recognized and we could not make decisions on behalf of the other person.
One more of those little details, little insults almost, that remind me on a regular basis how far we have left to go to be treated equally.
At the end of January, the Iowa House passed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Thankfully, the Iowa Senate is Democrat-controlled and is unlikely to pass the bill, but in the state where Tawn and I were married in August 2009, our legal right to marriage is under attack.
Not a week later, the Iowa House started kicking around the idea of a bill that would open the door for businesses, organizations, and individuals to discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds. But this legislation would go far beyond gays and lesbians, opening the door for discrimination against any married couples, including interfaith and interracial couples! Thankfully, enough furor was kicked up that the lead sponsor of the bill tabled it, citing concerns raised about the bill.
Forgive me if sometimes I seem a little defensive about my rights.
At the same time, perspective is needed. On January 26th, gay Ugandan human rights activist David Kato was brutally murdered. Uganda is a country where the level of homophobia and hatred is extreme. Homosexual acts are punishable with up to 14 years of imprisonment and members of the government have recently lobbied to have the punishment increased to the death penalty in some cases. While the Ugandan supreme court has ruled that homosexuals have a right to privacy, that didn’t stop one major newspaper from publishing pictures of several people including Mr. Kato and saying they were gay, along with the headline “Hang them!”
Keeping all this in mind helps give me more appreciation for what rights I do have, or at least for where I am in the world. Being beaten to death for being gay is an unlikely outcome in my life.
But don’t think for a minute I’m going to wave that around like some flag of victory. I still expect equality.