Wonkette Chats With Tennessee Couple Gay-Marrying Their Way To The Supreme Court!
WONKETTE EXCLUSIVE, everyone! We learned on Friday that June is the appointed time for the Supreme Court to cram gay marriage down every American throat, due to the fact that the Sixth Circuit, overseeing Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and this particular Wonket's state of Tennessee, became the first to say "TOO GAY, JOSE!", upholding those states' bans on marriage equality for, as our Kaili wrote at the time, "stupid reasons that are dumb." This caused a circuit split, and, just as Justice Ginsburg suggested would happen a couple months back, SCOTUS has now granted a Writ of 'Bout to Overturn Your Ass to all the cases so America can finally achieve its dream of being a fully gay nation.
The fetching gentlemen pictured above are Thom Kostura and Ijpe DeKoe (it's like the first part of "Ipanema," they will explain, the 50th time you ask how to pronounce it), one of the SCOTUS-bound Tennessee couples. They also, full disclosure and the entire point of this post, are two of my closest frenz. The Los Angeles Times has a handy little profile of them today, which saves me from having to write that part out myself:
At first, they were just joking.
Thom Kostura had gotten a traffic ticket, and he and his partner Ijpe DeKoe had swung by a New York courthouse to pay it off. The county clerk’s office was right there.
New York had legalized same-sex marriage about a week earlier in July 2011. DeKoe was going to deploy to Afghanistan in a week. Kostura brought the subject up first.
“It was one of those games of who was going to crack a smile first,” DeKoe, now 35, said. “And neither of us backed down.”
It was a 23-hour engagement. They notified family, filled out the paperwork and had a $71 wedding, which included the cost of the marriage license, a pizza and a bottle of prosecco.
Little did they know that the modest ceremony would one day be considered by the Supreme Court.
Yes, they were joking but now they're stuck! Ha ha just kidding, they love each other an awful lot, as you can see in this picture from their wedding day.
It was an odd situation they found themselves in. They were legally married in New York, and around the same time, Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed, which meant that they were also legally married when they were on the grounds of the naval base in Millington, TN, where Ijpe is stationed. The second they left those gates, though, they were legal strangers, which kind of highlights how untenable this patchwork of gay marriage laws really is. Many couples move for many different reasons, but the military is a good example of "you just don't know where you're going to end up."
I met this lovely couple a few years ago, when I was asked to be a judge at a mostly Christian battle of the bands (hand to God) held at an art gallery in my neighborhood, and I noticed the most ridiculously, pathetically cute pit bull/lab puppy. So I went to introduce myself to it. It was named "Bird Dog," and it was attached to Thom. So we started flapping our gums, and I said something about my "roommate" at the time, who was actually just my roommate, and Thom and Ijpe, having just moved to the South, were a bit worried that I was saying some pathetic closet case thing about my "roommate," and they were like "yeah, we are actually gay married, to each other!" So I said, "oh, that is nice!" and we all became BFFs. (If you're still having a hard time pronouncing Ijpe's name, you should know first that Ijpe was originally born as a Dutch, but he is a fully born-again American now. Also, I named them Bonkers and Yip-Yap a couple years back and it stuck, so you can call them that too if it's easier.)
A few months later, at my birthday party, I introduced them to a close friend who's very active in equality politics in Tennessee, and that was the person who approached them about suing the state for marriage equality. So they joined the lawsuit. In short, all of this happened because ME. Put my name on the historic SCOTUS case, plz?
I sat down with Bonkers and Yip-Yap on Saturday to chit-chat about the big Supreme Court news, and also to have them respond to a really nasty article written about them in Nashville's daily paper, by a feller name of David Fowler, who is Tennessee's low-rent state level version of Tony Perkins. He runs a little hate group called the Family Action Council of Tennessee, he used to be a state senator, and he likes to run around on playgrounds in pink shirts talking about how much God Hates Fags. In his Think Piece, Fowler directly attacked Ijpe and Thom's marriage, while feebly attempting to make the case that marriage should be a no-gay zone. Here is a transcript of our chit-chat. "Me" stands for "I'm talking" and "TI" stands for them responding, both because it's easier, and also because they speak in unison 100 percent of the time. It is very disconcerting.
ME: So we're here to talk about David Fowler's nasty little hit piece. In the article he said your story "tugged at his heartstrings." Do you believe him?
TI: I'm sure he felt something. Not sure if it was actually empathy or sympathy, but that's up to him to decide.
ME: Does David Fowler's story tug at YOUR heartstrings?
TI: Not so much.
ME: He said in his article that "experience has taught us that feelings can be misleading and and often change, and decisions based solely on feelings unexamined by the mind lead to poor results." He said that in response to the idea that married couples are able to make medical decisions for each other and stuff. Are gay couples actually not afforded rights like that when they can't get married, or are those just your gay FEELINGS?
TI: It's funny that he attempts to respond with logic, saying that we're being overly emotional. It seems that he is the one responding with more emotion than anything else, not with a factual basis at all.
ME: Because clearly your marriage doesn't have any effect on his life. In another quote, David says, "as to their legal rights, several of the ones they desire can be obtained through common legal documents such as powers of attorney, contracts and wills without the need to fundamentally change the meaning of marriage...
TI: And he's absolutely right, but why should we have to do that? Also, the state of New York has already GRANTED us those rights. This is a recognition question.
ME: So basically it's like a gay tax for Tennessee couples.
TI: It's adding an additional burden to any couple who isn't recognized. Tennessee already recognizes marriages from other states. It's only gay marriages that are treated differently. So his argument is moot. If that were absolutely true for Tennessee, they wouldn't accept as valid ANY marriage not performed in Tennessee, and that would be ridiculous. Everyone would have to come to Tennessee and get remarried.
ME: Is David correct in his assumption that all gay people are rich and and can afford these additional burdens?
TI: Are all straight people rich and able to afford those additional burdens?
ME: Can Wonket borrow five dollars?
ME: Okay, so he also says that only sex between a man and a woman can naturally and unintentionally lead to a child. "No child is unintentionally created by a same-sex union." Do you think there's any weight to David's suggestion that, if you have children, there's no chance it will be an ACCIDENT, that your children shouldn't have the same protections as kids who ARE accidents?
TI: Straight people have children all the time, in and out of wedlock, intentionally and unintentionally. With gay couples, there's just an additional step of planning. Makes the child no more or less legitimate than any other. They should all have those protections.
ME: Finally, David says, "That is why DeKoe and Kostura's rights are not being violated. It would turn the concept of equal protection under the law on its head if it required the law to treat as the same those things that are, in fact, quite different." Couldn't you use that same logic to make a case for racial discrimination?
TI: Um, in fact, that's what they used to do.
ME: Oh, so this isn't new?
TI: Uh, no.
So there you have it! Bonkers and Yip-Yap are my favorite married couple ever. Really, these guys, who met when they were counselors at Boy Scout Camp, are one of THOSE COUPLES that everybody who knows them sort of aspires to be. They are so gay for each other, and also mostly helpless when they are separate. Also, the entryway to their loft features a wall of weapons, which means they are far cooler than David Fowler and his blah blah blah ideas about why straight fundamentalist Christian marriages are more valuable than the Kostura-DeKoe marriage and others like it across the state of Tennessee and the rest of the country.
Good luck at the Supreme Court to all the couples, even the ones whose cases I wasn't personally responsible for birthing by fawning all over their dog at the Christian battle of the bands contest. I'm pretty optimistic that this is the big one, where we win all the gayness.