Posts Tagged ‘Iowa’

These Boots Are Made for…Hiking? (Not According to Iowa Senator Bartz)

May 12th, 2010 1 comment


I thought I’d done it — avoided real, unironic, outdoor camping and the gay, kitschy, outrageous “camp.”

OK, I hadn’t completely managed to skirt the tongue-in-cheek version: Too many people have witnessed (but probably not recorded) my just plain inexplicable Karaoke take on Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin….,” premiered on Long Beach Island many years ago, and then refined taken apart and put back together many times, complete with adenoidal, Fred Schneider-esque vocals and various iterations of bargain-basement drag. We will never speak of this again.

And then, this past weekend, I found myself engaged in the no-nonsense, “put up your tent before dark or die of exposure” kind of camping. This is what having kids will do to a person whose competences, such as they are, definitely do not extend to actually doing anything useful or practical beyond driving.

Of course, we went precisely because of the kids, who began counting down to the trip during the great February blizzards. Just the idea of running around in a huge tent and getting to sleep and eat in a new place is enough for five-year-olds. And then seeing a big ol’ turtle on the path…well, that’s as good as it needs to get.

The kids also stayed warm on Saturday night, the coldest May night in recorded history. With winds howling at 30 MPH (they really do howl when you’re among trees) and temperatures dipping to 40 degrees overnight, it might have been nice to have had, say, a sleeping bag instead of the pad and two thin, hotly contested blankets we’d brought. Of course, the girls had their cartoon character bags (Dora, to whom they can no longer give the time of day) and were nicely snuggled in. What little sleep I might have gotten (oh, why did I leave my Ambien at home, defying JayZ’s sage advice?) was eliminated by a series of embarrassments so profound that even I won’t disclose them. (Keywords: power outage, locked toilet, hunt, paper, man, flashlight, escape, trip.)

Did I mention that no alcohol was allowed at this state park? (Ah, the opacity of those red plastic cups!)

Now, what? The kids loved it, and so did our friends. I even kind of liked it myself, in the limited sense of “I didn’t die, lose a limb, or end up wrapped in the tent in some cartoonish way.” So we’ll probably (sigh) go again, investing thousands in tents, sleeping bags, pills, etc.


Because there are only four of us, we only need one tent. Why does that matter? In Iowa, State Senator Merlin Bartz is irate that state regulations are being changed to allow gay families to pitch more than one tent at a site, just as straight families can. Iowa, of course, allows same-sex couples to marry, so the agency in charge of camping rules has to conform regulations to this new reality. Why Bartz is so concerned about this particular rule change, I don’t know. But here’s a guess: Bartz is an outdoorsy guy — his memberships include “North Iowa Pheasants Forever” and “Worth County Ducks Unlimited” — and doesn’t like the idea that his family might be camped next to a two-tenting, gay family. But his three kids are growing up among gay families, whether he knows, or likes, it — or not. Trying to resist changing the definition to reflect reality is ultimately a futile holding action.

Maybe we should go to Iowa and confirm his worst fears. I’ll burst from the tent next to his and launch into one last chorus of “These Boots….” If he listened for a few minutes, he might actually smile. (Now I will never speak of this again.)

Barney Frank, Re-Reconsidered?

September 18th, 2009 No comments

Quite understandably, Barney Frank has his defenders — even when he takes an action that, at least on the face of it, seems inexplicable to the gay community of which he’s such a vital part.

So I wasn’t surprised when Chris Geidner (Law Dork) stood with Frank when he decided not to support NY Rep Jerrold Nadler’s just-introduced bill, The Respect for Marriage Act, to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). I fired away at Frank, which provoked an e-mail response from Geidner. He wrote:

I just think it’s naive at best (and I know you’re not naive) for people to diminish the sensible statement that Barney made about this provision causing political problems for a DOMA repeal bill.

Please, tell me why I’m wrong.

Well, I’ll try. As usual, though, Geidner does have a point, even if, in the end, we have a difference of opinion as to whether Frank should have declined to co-sponsor the bill. Some background:

The Respect for Marriage Act goes beyond undoing DOMA’s two provisions, and the “extra” provision is the one that Geidner, and Frank, think spells political trouble. The Act adds a section that would ensure that a same-sex couple, once validly married under the law of any state, would gain — and keep — federal recognition of their union, even were they to move (or visit, I guess) another state that denied marriage equality. It would also, if I’m reading it correctly, allow those who leave the country to marry (by going to Canada, for instance) to have their marriages recognized by the feds if the couple then took up residence in, say, Iowa.1

Geidner, in an earlier post, thought that this so-called “certainty provision” is unique. I’ve not found evidence to the contrary, but that is likely because the situation hasn’t arisen in exactly this way before. DOMA having confused the relationship between the feds and states when it comes it marriage, it’s not surprising that efforts to restore the status quo ante (where the federal definition of marriage follows state law) are complex, perhaps novel.

Geidner agrees with Frank on the point that the certainty provision will be attacked for forcing one state to recognize a same-sex marriage valid in another (even though it doesn’t). I’m sure they’re right, but the repeal effort will be attacked with or without the certainty provision, and on essentially the same ground. By seeking to remove the DOMA provision that tells states they needn’t recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, Nadler et al. will be accused of doing that anyway (even though that provision of DOMA was never needed for a state to refuse recognition of a marriage celebrated in a sister state). Here‘s what he said:

“Mr. Frank knows better than anyone that our opponents will falsely claim that any DOMA repeal bill ‘exports marriage’ in an effort to generate fear and misunderstanding,” Nadler said. “But the dishonest tactics of our opponents should not stop us from aggressively pushing to end this horrific discrimination now, as is the consensus of the nation’s top LGBT groups who all support this approach.”

And on the merits, of course, life without the certainty provision would become a legalistic morass, as couples moving from pro- to anti-gay marriage states would have no clear answers to apparently simple questions, like: Can I file a joint federal income tax return? Is the incrementally greater political risk (conceding that point for now) a sufficient reason to cause a pile-up of needless lawsuits and confusion?

Of course, I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes; but (perhaps naively)  I don’t much care. To me, it sends a terrible message for Frank —  who, again, was willing to sponsor a bill to legalize pot that stands less than no chance of passing  any time soon — to be refusing to sign onto this repeal of DOMA. But I respect Geidner’s view. In his first post, he had this much exactly right:

These discussions and debates are the inevitable result of many people of good will attempt to correct the damage done in 1996 with DOMA’s passage.  In the coming days…, expect to be hearing a lot more about these and other issues relating to any possible DOMA repeal.  Regardles of views on this or that provision, though, I want to remain clear that these are debates over strategy and tactics, not in any way an attack on the folks working to right this wrong.

And in that spirit, I want to make clear that I see Barney Frank as someone “working to right this wrong” — however much I disagree with how he’s going about it.

  1. It might also be read to allow the Canadian-married couple to get federal benefits wherever in the U.S. they resided.

More Good News from Iowa

August 26th, 2009 No comments

A constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision looks less likely :

A state civil rights commissioner said Thursday that an amendment to the Iowa Constitution banning gay marriage would clash with the fundamental rights of Iowans spelled out in the same document.

“I don’t think we’re saying that there can’t be a constitutional amendment raised. I mean, that’s under the constitution,” said Commissioner Rick Morain, a Republican from Jefferson. “My personal feeling is that if that kind of amendment were adopted, it would clash with Article 1 of the constitution, which is the Iowa Bill of Rights.” and to formally oppose any constitutional amendment that would overturn the decision.

Morain said: “To me, it would not be consistent with Iowa’s long-standing tradition of equality and the right to happiness to pass that amendment.”

What kind of Republican is this guy? Just one from Iowa:

The commission is a bipartisan group of seven Iowans appointed by the governor to be neutral fact- finders in cases of reported discrimination.