Friday, May 01, 2009

Iowa Marriage Tourism Begins

Big Gay Wedding Bus Equals Tourists for Iowa City

It's only Day Five of Iowa marriage equality (or the Gaypocalypse if you prefer) and I'm already so used to the idea that I completely forgot that the Big Gay Wedding Bus from Missouri was coming to Iowa City today.

The Johnson County recorder's office issued marriage licenses to 17 Missouri couples who chartered a bus from St. Louis. Iowa is the only one of the four marriage equality states that issues licenses to out of state couples. (Note: the New Hampshire legislature passed marriage equality this week; the Democratic governor's signature would make it the fifth state.)

The couples had sent their information to Johnson County on Monday, this satisfying the three day waiting period. They were proceeding straight from the recorder's office to a local Unitarian church for immediate weddings.

"Has everyone met their minister yet?" groom Scott Emanuel called out to the couples, gathering for a group photo in front of "The River" wall sculpture in the Administration Building lobby. Emanuel and co-groom Ed Reggi organized the bus trip.

A call to smile and say cheese for the photo was met with responses of both "cheese!" and "Iowa City!" Why Iowa City? "Who wouldn't pick Iowa City?" said local resident Joan Benson, who helped the Missouri organizers with local logistics.

"Everyone we talked to said, 'you've got to go to Iowa City'," said Reggi. "And the feeling we got, walking off the bus and being greeted by Mayor Regenia Bailey, it was way above what we had hoped."

The cloud to this silver lining is that Emanuel and Reggi's marriage won't be recognized back home in Missouri, which passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman in 2004. Reggi said that could be changed if a new amendment is passed or if federal courts overturn the 2004 amendment.

(Pics later if they turned out.)

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