Seventeen same-sex couples from the St. Louis area traveled more than 250 miles to Iowa City on Friday to wed — something their home state of Missouri won't allow. The newlyweds arrived by bus from St Louis, Missouri on what is being called the Show Me Marriage Equality Bus. Among those married were black lesbian couples Stephanie Jarvis- Finch and her wife Shonta Jarvis-Finch along with Amy Foster and her wife Yolanda Johnson-Foster.
The couples were all united in marriage during a 90 minute ceremony at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City.
You may recall another black lesbian couple, Kentaindra Scarver and Veronica Spann profiled in The Chicago Sun Times last week who were among the first to be married when the Iowa Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage equality took effect in the state.
H. Alexander Robinson, Executive Director of The National Black Justice Coalition, the nation's only black LGBT organization has decided to travel to Iowa to witness first-hand this monumental moment in the gay rights movement and has created a blog to document his experience.
"As I head off to the Hawkeye state, I am reminded of the Iowa’s historic role as a bellwether for justice and equality. From the rights of women and African Americans to the recent decision by the state’s Supreme Court to extend marriage rights to lesbian and gay couples, Iowa leads", notes Robinson in an address to NBJC supporters on his blog.
"Though less that 3% of Iowa’s population is African American, the Black communities in Des Moines, Davenport and Waterloo continue to play an important and critical role in setting the tone for issues of justice and civil rights."
Let's hope during Robinson's time in Iowa a few images of black gay couples will emerge.
Josh Schamberger, president of Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he hopes Friday's event was the first of many destination same-sex weddings for the area. His organization has formed a committee that is working on a gay and lesbian advertising campaign.