Making History: Celebrating 5 Years of Marriage Equality in Iowa

Five years ago on April 3, 2009, Iowans won the freedom to marry.

Today, we celebrate. We celebrate the courageous plaintiff couples in the historic Varnum v. Brien case. We celebrate Lambda Legal and the advocates who helped win the case. We celebrate the 7 Iowa Supreme Court justices who did the right thing and ruled unanimously in favor of marriage for gay and lesbian couples, even though it cost some of them their jobs.

Iowa helped pave the way for marriage across the country. As the third state in the nation to embrace the freedom to marry, we helped propel the nation forward.

Today, 17 states and the District of Columbia have achieved marriage and a majority of Americans support marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Five years ago, this was not the case.

The world is changing; we are a part of history in the making.

Our work in Iowa is far from over, however. We still have a law on the books that specifically targets people living with HIV and AIDS for harsh criminal penalties. This is unacceptable. One Iowa is working with Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network (CHAIN) to educate Iowans and modernize our state's outdated and draconian HIV law.

We must also address Iowa's aging LGBT population. What happens to an elderly LGBT person who has to move into assisted living? Do adequate resources exist? Must that person hide his or her sexual orientation to get adequate care? What can we do to help make the transition an easier one? These are concerns we need to address.

In addition, we must expand resources for our transgender brothers and sisters in all corners of the state. We need our LGBTQ youth to have a safe place to be who they are, where they are. We must reach out to our communities of faith to have those sometimes difficult conversations about why equality for LGBT people is important. We need to talk about healthcare for LGBT individuals, and how doctors and healthcare providers can be more welcoming and inclusive of our community. And we need to reach out to our opponents and create the place and space for us to have respectful and civil conversation as we move forward.

One Iowa is working on all these issues, and more, as we change hearts and minds across the state.

I know in my heart that one day, every LGBT person across the nation will enjoy true equality. And, as we look back, we'll be able to say that we had a part to play in this history. We'll be able to say that it started here, in the Heartland -- it started here in Iowa.

Congratulations to everyone who helped get us to this place of celebration -- and a heartfelt thank you for the work each of you will do as we move forward.