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To say they almost ran to the courthouse as it opened that day six years ago would not be an exaggeration. But the only excitement Monday was when one of Chuck and Jason Swaggerty-Morgan's five adopted children took a tumble and needed a leg bandage and comforting. The fact that Chuck and Jason were part of a major change in how we look at the makeup of families in Iowa isn't lost on them, but the priority of the moment was that one of the kids wanted to read Green Eggs and Ham and had plopped on Jason's lap. Chuck and Jason of Sioux City were one of six couples who were plaintiffs in a case that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa six years ago.
It opened the eyes of the country that a Midwest state blanketed in corn and soybeans could do such a thing.
Over the next six years, 36 other states and the District of Columbia recognized same-sex marriage as a right. And Tuesday the U. Supreme Court heard arguments about whether it should be allowed nationwide. He wasn't talking about his part in social change that has led to 9, same-sex marriages in Iowa from tothe last year available from the Iowa Department of Public Health.
He was talking about being a parent. Four of the couples who were plaintiffs are raising children.
Twenty-seven percent of Iowa same-sex households who identify as spouses report they are raising their own children, according to census estimates compiled by the Williams Institute, a public-policy think tank at the UCLA School of Law that researches sexual orientation and gender identity. Ta-John, 10, came to live with Jason and Chuck before they were married.
Adoption policies before same-sex marriage legalization didn't allow for gay couples to adopt together, so Chuck had to adopt him first and Jason later. When Ta-John first arrived, he had a lot of challenges. He would bang his head against the wall, wouldn't talk or look them in the eye, and wouldn't come to them for comfort. After much nurturing and numerous visits to specialists, they began to see Ta-John grow and excel to become what Jason calls a "model of student behavior. They adopted Ta-John's brother Reed, 8, and then after they were married, the sibling pair of Micah, 7, and Rain, 6.
Next came Torrey, 7. Four were in diapers at the same time, sometimes all needing simultaneous changing. Jason does most of the talking on this night.
He's used to it, after being in front of a third-grade class as a teacher, while Chuck, 42, runs their antique business. When they bought their five-bedroom house in Sioux City 10 years ago because they loved to fix up old homes, they joked that the room in the attic would become their nursery. They never thought it would happen. After Ta-John and Reed came into their lives and after hearing that the advocacy group Lambda Legal was seeking plaintiffs for a case to legalize same-sex marriage, they had motivation to the cause. They also had more courage to do it. They wanted to show their children that they could stand up for what is right.
He said the plaintiffs were chosen because they are pillars of the community. Once you get to know Jason and Chuck, they are like any other upstanding citizens who want to raise their. The couple faced a trifecta of challenges, because of their sexual orientation, because they're white and their children are black, and because they have a special-needs. Some of it wasn't pretty, including racist jokes. Jason had grown up in Sioux City, had never seen other gay people and felt shame. Every time they were in the news during the case, it caused a rift in Jason's extended family.
Every time they read an ugly post on an online newspaper article, especially those that talked about their children, it caused heartache. Although they go to church and the children have been baptized, Jason said some people thought it is "God's opinion" that their marriage is wrong.
Some opponents argued that marriage is an institution formed by a man and a woman, and the best outcomes for children come when they are raised by a biological mother and biological father. In the years that followed, they said they would get dirty looks while herding their pack of children through the grocery store. But they noticed a subtle shift in attitude through the years. Some people at the grocery came up to them and said, "We just want to tell you that you have a beautiful family.
On a macro level, opinions began to change, too. The dynamics of their marriage haven't changed over the last six years, the couple said. While "it feels right to be legally married, and treated equally under the law," Jason said, they had that commitment in their hearts for 12 years before they married. Now they are hoping that the U. Supreme Court decides that they can also have the rights of a married couple in the 13 states that prohibit same-sex marriage. But they would just as soon talk about their kids and the house they are moving to a couple of blocks away that will give them more room.
Rain loves to read. Reed likes to build things. Torrey likes to sing and dance. Ta-John and Micah love soccer. There is joy, and there is hard work.
But anything that's worth it is hard work. Facebook Twitter .
Gay marriage plaintiffs are proud parents 6 years later. Show Caption. Hide Caption. Gay Marriage in Iowa: Ingrid Olson finds new life, heartache. Six years ago, six same-sex couples won the right to legally marry in Iowa. Ingrid Olson, a plaintiff in the original supreme court case, talks about the challenges she's faced since that landmark decision.
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Gay marriage plaintiffs are proud parents 6 years later