Equality has been a long time coming in the Cornfield of Indiana.
Indiana joined the other 34 states which provide equality for all long-term couples - same-gender and opposite-gender - two months ago. For citizens in 15 other states the wait and fight for equality continues.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014, in an historic ceremony, Iohn Beasley and Mark Ivy were proclaimed lawful partners for life by Minister Rusty Goodwin.
The ceremony was historic in that Iohn and I were the first same-gender couple in ultra-conservative Sullivan County to take advantage of the freedom and equality now afforded in the Hoosier State.
The ceremony took place in Mark's Den - our home. My sister, Leticia; my brother-in-law, Chad; my niece, Jackalee; the minister's wife; and our roommate, Fenny were witnesses.
Frankie and Gizmo, our boys, were shut away in the bathroom so as not to disrupt the event.
The ceremony was written by me. The wording, which may be used by other couples, can be read at: http://marksden.com/partners.html.
Nearly a decade has passed since Iohn and I first began. At that time the idea that we could be lawful life partners was merely a dream. That dream has now become reality.
Hard to believe, but gasoline prices are falling in the Cornfield as they are in the rest of the nation.
North of our small bump in the road of Farmersburg in Terre Haute, IN last night the price was at $2.73. This morning I filled up here in town and paid $2.65 per gallon. (Image 2)
I had to drive to the county seat, Sullivan, to pick up our equality license after filling up. It was then I discovered in the small burg 5 miles south of us the price was $2.59, below the national average. Premium, blank in Image 1, was at $2.79.
Continue to wait and hope that soon the cost to fill up the tank will be less than $2 per gallon.
Today marks the 73rd anniversary of the attack by the Japanese Imperial Navy on the US of A's naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the Monday after the attack:
"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."
The attack on Pearl Harbor was the oomph that helped push the US into World War II on the side of the Allies. But it was not the only factor, there were many more as well.
Not only did the Japanese launch an attack at Pearl Harbor that peaceful Sunday morning, but that same day attacked Guam, Wake Island, The Phiippines, Malaya, Thailand and Midway.
Eventually General Douglas MacArthur would utter the immortal words, "I shall return," as he fled The Philippines as the Japanese occupied.
Thousands of American sailors and soldiers lost their lives that sleepy morning. Battleships still lie in rest in the harbor, the watery grave for American lives lost.
In recent years, commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day has seemed to fade. Perhaps in part it can be attributed to the fact that more and more of whom Tom Brokaw called, "The Greatest Generation", die off. The memory of that tragic day begins to fade as well.
An article detailing 5 myths about Pearl Harbor at twincities.com from a few years ago noted:
The attack on Pearl Harbor awoke America from its isolationist slumber and bolstered its charge into the Pacific war, but it did not spur entry into the European war. That happened when Nazi Germany and fascist Italy declared war on the United States on Dec. 11, compelling Roosevelt to respond in kind - thus committing the United States to a world war.
From the Cornfield, I am hoping those who read this will stop and remember those sailors and soldiers whose lives were lost.
To "The Greatest Generation", we salute your service, your action and how you kept the world "safe for democracy".
Iohn and I made history today when we drove to the Sullivan County Clerk of Court's office and applied for a license taking advantage of equality for same-gender couples. We learned we were the first to apply in our county which is one of the most conservative in the State of Indiana.
On October 6 of this year, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the state after the US 7th District Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's ruling that the state law banning equality to same-gender couples was unconstitutional. I stated at the time that Iohn and I would now have the freedom to take our time in obtaining legal recognition of our relationship.
Today, the time came - at least for applying for the license. While Iohn works Monday, I will drive down and pick up the piece of paper which once a ceremony is conducted will confer the same legal rights to the two of us as those now enjoyed by opposite-gender couples.
Currently we are hoping to make honest men of each other either next Friday, December 12, or Saturday, December 13.
From the Cornfield, all those decades I dreamed of this day, but never believed it would be reality in my lifetime.
To memorialize the occasion, one of the clerks was kind enough to snap a picture with my camera after I learned we were the first applicants in Sullivan County.
The truth is staring me in the mirror.
I am an older, white male.
As such, I have a failure to understand, an incapability of empathy and am justifiably labeled guilty.
Why deny it?
How can I as an older, white male be able to "get it"?
How can I as an older, white male know how it feels to be abused both verbally and physically?
How can I as an older, white male know the hurt of being turned down for employment or fired from employment because of being who one is?
How can I as an older, white male be able to relate to police hostility or brutality?
How can I as an older, white male think I can be party to healing wounds that cross time?
How can I as an older, white male have the gall to talk about injustice and inequality?
How can I as an older, white male discover my options limited in achieving the great American Dream?
How can I as an older, white male know the humiliation of mothers pulling their children close to them when passing by?
How can I as an older, white male relate to the shame as people cross to the other side of the street in avoidance?
How can I as an older, white male comprehend being refused service in a restaurant or store simply for being alive?
Anyone watching the video can see it clearly that I am an older, white male - thus I am suspect.
It is plain to see that I have no seat at the table with the downtrodden.
The only participation I can have in the conversation is to admit my guilt and complicity for actions perpetrated 50, 100, 200, 300 years ago.
Those actions surely were committed by someone like me. I am guilty whether I am blood-related or not to the perpetrator.
I am guilty whether any thoughts of malice have ever crossed my mind or not.
I am guilty whether I have ever committed any acts of inhumanity or not.
I am the spitting image of the guilty.
From the Cornfield, not sure if I mentioned it, but I am also gay.
I have been asked to move from where I lived.
I have been beaten.
I have been threatened with jail time.
I have been met at the church door and told I was not welcome.
I have seen employment opportunities disappear.
I have been called things which would make the most vile person blush.
None of that matters.
I am betrayed by my appearance in the video.
I am an old, white male.
Nothing matters except for what is so obvious by one look.
But don't call it profiling.
Loss of human life is always tragic. It is more tragic when that loss is caused by a violent act whether justified or criminal. Such is the case in the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last August at the hands of Police Officer Darren Wilson.
For months we have heard protestors cry out for justice in this case. Yet when our justice system ran its course, there was not only disbelief and feelings of justice being denied, there were some who went on a rampage of criminal acts.
A grand jury found there was not sufficient probable cause that Wilson committed a crime when he shot and killed Brown. The grand jury returned a verdict that no indictment nor trial would be forthcoming.
Outrage continues at the loss of an unarmed, black teenager. The outrage is understandable. At the same time, justice prevailed according to the grand jury and our system of law.
Justice sometimes results in a trial, which many called for in this case. At other times, justice does not live up to our demands and results in no indictment. But justice was done.
Listening to some of the protestors as well as some commentators called on by the media, the death of Brown seemed to have been swept away and replaced by a need to redress the wrongs and hurts of 200 years. Instead of focusing on this tragedy, some found this the perfect reason to rampage, go on a crime spree or spit out anger over events and harms committed long in the past and before most were even born.
For many of those burning Ferguson I question seeking justice. Instead the grand jury verdict and the death of Brown was a sideshow pushed aside to justify looting, burning and other criminal activity. All this under the guise of trying to get justice.
Yes, the nation does need to have a conversation and sit down between those of African descent and those of European descent. Yes, for far too many, white or black, instead of allowing the country to become the fabled melting pot, they would rather keep picking at the scab until blood is running again.
There are some attempting to bind the wounds. There are some attempting to repair the breaches in the wall.
There are also those - some even famous or with large followings - who have an agenda and need to keep the nation torn and divided. Some these have corrupted the American dream by seeing racial divides as a means to pad the coffers, to keep the money flowing.
This ought not to be.
Saint or sinner, the death of Michael Brown was and is a tragedy.
Saint or sinner, Officer Darren Wilson must live the rest of his life with the knowledge he took the life of another human being - justified though the Grand Jury may have deemed it to be.
Time to let old wounds mend.
Time to build a bright future together.
Time to be Americans - not African Americans or Asian Americans or Hispanic Americans - but just Americans.
Have there been crimes committed by even those in authority in the past?
Are we forever going to let the sins of the fathers and mothers from centuries ago extract punishment on the sons and daughters now and into the future?
There are far too many in both the white and the black communities who allow animus to fester and be passed on from generation to generation.
Last night in Ferguson and in communities across the nation, it seems the writer of Hebrews got it right:
"Lest any root of bitterness springs up within you and defiles many."
Time to cut out this cancer and live in true freedom.
From the Cornfield, I am not sure how I would feel if either of my sons was shot and killed by a police officer or anyone for that matter. What I do know is that lashing out in hatred would not honor either of my sons' memory.
As the prophet once said, "Unless the Lord build the house (city, nation), the workman works in vain."
Life - filled with its ups and downs, the level plains which lie between;
The rain without which there would be no flowers;
The valleys where strength and supplies are found to climb to the mountain tops;
Health - though fraught with issues and concerns with which I must daily battle;
Healthcare - which has resulted in finding the root cause of many of my more serious physical ailments along with a cure for the fatal infection that threatens to kill me;
Eyecare - which provides the expertise to restore my vision rather than allowing me to go blind;
Family - who bring joys and tears, but with whom I could not live without;
Sons - those offspring who carry on and outshine the man who was their sire;
Granddaugters - who are beautiful, bubbly, putting a smile on my face even in the darkest moments with a look;
Daughters-in-Law - who put up with the "Old Man" and don't fuss too much when their husbands stay in touch;
Mom - who may not always agree with the choices, decisions I make, but is always there to support me as her son;
Dad - who often is on opposite sides from where I stand;
Siblings - who bring the tussle and tumble at times and the closeness and connectivity that none else can know;
Ex-Wives - without whom I would never have known the joy and love of my two sons;
Frankie and Gizmo, the "boys" - who provide companionship and protect "Daddy" when Iohn is at work;
My Partner Iohn - who has put up with me through good, bad, sickness and health for nearly a decade now;
Real Life Acquaintenances - who have shown up at my door when unexpected, but at the right moment;
Online Friends - some who have been angels in some of my direst moments over the past few years when I felt I could not carry on;
The Community of Farmersburg - which has taken in "strangers" and accepted us as their own in spite of our differences;
Our Nation - though battered and torn at times, though emeshed in family feuds at times, yet still the most free and greatest light of liberty in the world today;
God - for sustaining me thus far and deciding it was not time for me to cross the divide and go home a few months ago.
From the Cornfield, I send out my wish to one and all for a day of reflection, a time with family and friends, a day of peace, love and joy this Thanksgiving Day before the madness of shopping fever takes over, forgetting the reason for the season.
May you find no matter your situation, station in life, health or wealth, there is always something for which to be grateful.