Senator Jungbauer describes himself as a Christian conservative. I found that after speaking with him for about a half hour in his office that that label does not necessarily translate into "closed minded." Our conversation left me with the impression that he is genuinely open minded on marriage equality, not an advocate, but interested in finding a way to provide same sex couples with at least some if not all the rights and responsibilities of marriage without the name. If I'm being deceived, he's very very good at it.
He started out by telling me where he stands on marriage equality. He doesn't think the government should be in the marriage business at all. Then he expressed discomfort over the fact that same sex couples are not being treated fairly and that he wants to find a way to achieve fairness without using the word "marriage." He actually used the term "separate but equal," and added that it can be the path to real equality. As "back of the bus" as I regard this concept, I think it is something of a breakthrough coming from a legislator with Senator Jungbauer's record on gay issues.
I told him that I'm interested in one thing...equality. That means I don't care if the state abolishes all the marriage statutes and NOBODY gets their relationship recognized by the government. If the state revises the marriage statutes to replace the word "marriage" with the words "civil union," and issues only "Civil Union Licenses" to both same and different sex couples, that's ok with me. But, if the word marriage is going to stay, then it has to apply to everyone. Churches will continue to marry whomever they please in any circumstance. I added that, "There are people in our community that would accept civil unions, I'm not one of them."
We touched on the domestic partner benefits bill and education issues. I told him I'm not an expert on either and reminded him that I'm a protester not a lobbyist. He said that's why he wanted to talk to me. His concern with the domestic partner benefits bill was the lax relationship validation requirements. We agreed that official state recognition of same sex couples would remedy that problem and he supported the idea.
I left the Senator's office liking him and feeling that although we're not on the same page, we're not that far apart either.