Five years of same-sex marriage in Iowa

iowa-prideIt has been five years since the Iowa Senate has made same-sex marriage legal in the same Iowa.
For some students and staff, the journey to this point has not been an easy one.
Ridge Freeborn is  Ankeny DMACC liberal arts student who has undergone a rough past with being gay.  He was in high school the year that same-sex marriage became legal in Iowa. He saw people in high school get hurt badly.
“I’ve seen a ton of people get beaten up and get made fun of for being gay but now once you get into a college, people at school are used to now because they know a ton of people who are gay,” Freeborn said.
Julie Simanksi, the professor in charge of DMACC United at DMACC Ankeny remembered what she felt when the law was passed in 2009.
“I was proud that my state was one of the first in the nation to legalize love for everyone,” Simanski said.
The same-sex marriage law in  Iowa took effect on April 27, 2009 and overturned the ban was overturned allowing same-sex marriage in  the state of Iowa.
At the time of the legislation, Iowa became the third state to allow gay marriage, and there are currently 17 states where same-sex marriage is legal.
“Attitudes have changed dramatically about GLBT people over the last few years.  Moreover, young people seem to be more and more unfazed by a person’s sexual orientation.  All of these things create an environment that is more accepting.  Hopefully, this allows LGBT youth to be who they are without fear of rejection or resorting to suicide,” Simanski said.
According to numerous studies, as reported by the American Association of Suicidology, youth LGBT students have attempted suicide more often than straight students.
It would help curve the deficit, boost tax revenues,  and it can help boost struggling state economies.  Also, more weddings means more money according to the Huffington Post.
However for one student, the road to get to this point wasn’t the easiest. He first had to come out of the closet. For Freeborn though, coming out of the closet had to be the hardest challenge.
“Well the biggest thing I feel for me and probably for everyone is coming out.  Some students are probably afraid to lose close friends and don’t know what parents may think or do. Well I came out to everyone so far but my parents don’t necessarily approve on my behalf. Which probably affects a lot people like me for being gay and coming out. However, it hurts me more because some religions don’t approve of it and find it’s wrong in their way today. As for me, I’m Christian and it’s not easy to get accepted for being gay,” Freeborn said.
As stated by the National Youth Association of American, 9 out of 10 LGBT students have experienced harassment at school, and LGBT youth with “highly rejecting” families are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than those whose families accept them.
However for many professors and students life hasn’t changed that much since the law has came out in 2009.
“Nothing ‘bad’ happened because of this law.  If anything, it’s economically helped the state with more LGBT couples coming here to get married and pay for wedding related services.  In addition, the law really shouldn’t affect anyone unless you wanted to validate and make equal a gay/lesbian committed relationship,” Simanksi said.
On Monday, a federal judge ordered that Ohio authorities must recognize the marriages of same-sex marriages that were performed in other states. The judge on Monday ruled that refusing to recognize gay marriage is a violation of constitutional rights and unenforceable in all circumstances.
In a Gallup poll from 2012, 3.4% of U.S. adults identified themselves as being LGBT. In the poll, 4.6% of black Americans identified as being LGBT, 4.3% being Asian-Americans, 4.0% being Hispanic, and 3.2% being non-Hispanic white Americans.
The poll also showed that women were more likely to be LGBT (3.6%) than men (3.3%). Adults aged 18-29 were also three times as likely to come out as being LGBT than adult seniors aged 65 and older.
According to Abby Abeyta-Martin, of the DMACC Ankeny Campus, the hardest thing [about being LGBTQP in today’s times] is finding out who’s comfortable with it and who’s not.
Freeborn wasn’t sure what people would say when they found out he was gay.
“When I found out that I was gay I didn’t know what to expect or what to  tell people about me or how they would take it. Somehow people basically just figured [it] out and soon it kind of got around and it works. When coming out to like friends it was ok  for me sometimes. Some of them didn’t mind it all cause they say it’s your life and live the way you want it to be, said Freeborn
“But as for me,  I also had some friends who are Christian or religious and kind of stepped away from our friendship and it was tough but knowing that if they didn’t accept me they weren’t truly a friend cause there’s plenty of fish in the sea.”
In a  report from the Iowa Department of Public Health, there were 2,020 same-sex marriages recorded in Iowa from April 27, 2009 through March 31, 2010.  However only 815 of the marriages were from Iowa couples. Among the couples married here in Iowa, 728 couples were two men and 1,292 were two women getting married. In Polk County there were 484 same sex marriages.
Iowans, especially those students who are LGBT are lucky to live in a state such as Iowa or in the United States.
“I think Iowa should feel fortunate to be noted as progressive in this movement.  We will go down in history as a frontrunner.  The Defense of Marriage Act has been struck down, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been rescinded, and both political parties seem to realize that hate mongering doesn’t win [a] vote,” Simanksi said.
For some students, life  is still  life, just slightly  different for themselves since 2009.
“I hadn’t come come out as being pansexual by then but I supported it completely,” Abeyta-Martin said.
Yet life isn’t always sparkles and rainbows for members of the LGBTQ community.
“I don’t have a problem if people say bad things, I ‘ve heard it all before. You’re not shocking me, you’re not suprising me. I’m 22 plus a couple years and  I grew up Baptist  and  it was horrible.  I even went to a right-wing conservative high school,” said a DMACC professor who wished to remain unnamed.
However bullying of LGBT students does happen, and it does occur in college.
One of the most publicized cases of a bullying case leading to suicide is in New Jersey. Tyler Clementi, age 18 committed suicide when  two other students filmed  him  making out with another male student and then posted the video online.
Statistics say that the average student hears anti-gay remarks approximately 25 times in the average school day, or at least once in  every fourteen minutes.
According to a statistic, 1 in 6 LGBTQ are assaulted bad enough that medical attention is needed.
“I don’t see any reason to try to discourage or outright ban certain people from marrying, if they love each other then they should go for it, I’m really glad Iowa has that law now,” Abeyta-Martin said.
However, over the past five years things truly have changed a lot for people.
“I think a lot less people are worried about coming out  to people they know, there is more equality now in spite of it,” said  Van Maaren.
“However if you look right now you see a lot of younger people coming out of the closet and it’s kind of amazing that people are knowing what homosexuality is called and understanding the love between same sexes. It doesn’t matter who you are as long as you find the person you love. It seems like the younger people are coming out of the closet, and there’s nothing wrong with it,” said a DMACC professor.
However no matter if you’re Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Transexual, Asexual, Questioning, Queer, Intersexual or even Straight; follow your heart and find who you love.
“If they like something like same sex marriage or a job or a car they should go for it;  no one should be stopping them. The only one who is stopping them for being who you truly are is you. Follow your way and follow your life and follow your destiny and live how you want to live just be yourself, that’s what I have to say,” Freeborn said

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