But Cheers to the Iowa Supreme Court!

In my last post I suggested that Iowa has a tendency toward policy and law that keeps the state in the nation’s backwaters. I’m not one to tout progress without check; I think we accept the rapid rate of change as an inherent good, despite, for instance, what such progress is doing to our environment. But I think Iowa sometimes takes pride in being behind the curve in many ways. That said, I couldn’t be happier with the Iowa State Supreme Court’s recent ruling in favor of gay marriage. This is the right decision from many angles and I’m proud to say puts Iowa at the cutting edge for once instead of that rear-view mirror position we too often maintain. But I should point out that this is the ruling of a body entrusted with one obligation: to judge constitutionality.  The “people” of the state and their representatives, though,  are already working on undermining that decision, clamoring for a constitutional amendment. Please, give me a break.

There are three prime arguments against gay marriage:
1. Gay marriage undermines traditional marriage (the so-called “defense of marriage” approach). If this is really the concern, then it seems to me the bigger problem is the preponderance of people who have 3, 4, 5… marriages. If this is really such a concern, why don’t we just deny the rights of marriage to anyone after their first marriage? Wouldn’t that actually make more sense if the goal is to preserve the sanctity of marriage?  Who is more detrimental here, someone who marries and divorces, marries and divorces… or a gay couple in a long-term relationship? The defense of marriage is a disingenuous red herring in this debate.
2. Same-sex marriage some how infringes on the religious freedom of people who have a religious-based objection to it. Talk about having the argument backwards. The whole problem with denying same-sex marriage is that it is exactly a state decision made on a religious tenet. Whether anyone is granted state benefits (visitation rights, taxes, property inheritance, etc) should not be based on a religious belief. This problem doesn’t work in reverse, though: no one who disapproves of marriage will ever be forced to condone (no priest will be forced to perform a gay marriage for instance) or accept such beliefs. I respect everyone’s right to their own belief system. Just keep your church out of my government, please.
3. Same-sex marriage will repel new businesses. This is a fairly important one for Iowa, especially as we discuss recovery from recent floods. But I find it so ironic when we do everything we can to keep new businesses and money away from the state in other ways (hmmm, see the post below).  Seems to me that just as we risk losing some businesses with this ruling, we also open the door for other businesses. The question is really what kind of businesses we want to entice to the state. For me, I’d much rather have tolerant businesses move into the state; it will be better for everyone in the long run anyway.
So, cheers to the supreme court for making the right ruling. Boo to the lawmakers who are already making the move to embroil us in a lengthy and meaningless battle over a state amendment. As much as possible, I believe in direct democracy, but I honestly wonder about putting this decision in the hands of the people: history has shown people to be far too willing to strip populations of equal rights or justice. And that’s what an amendment would amount to here. Get ready, Iowa, it could all get ugly now.

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