Friday, April 3, 2009

Iowa Gay Marriage Ruling Makes End-Run Around State's Voters

I'm looking at the reactions on the left to the ruling from the Iowa Supreme Court allowing gay couples to marry, "Unanimous ruling: Iowa marriage no longer limited to one man, one woman."

So, it's a great day for civil rights? Not exactly:

“Iowa loses,” said Republican Sen. David Johnson of Ocheyedan. “There have been attempts in the past few years to allow Iowans to weigh in on this issue through our constitutional amendment process and it’s been blocked by majority party leadership. That’s why Iowa loses.”
One might think Iowa's leadership would let voters decide the issue at the polls, providing an up or down vote on such a controversial policy.

In a new poll from the University of Iowa, just over a quarter of respondents backed full gay marriage rights:

The random statewide telephone poll of 978 registered voters found that 36.7 percent of Iowans oppose recognition of gay marriage and civil unions. Overall, 26.2 percent of respondents support gay marriage and 27.9 percent oppose gay marriage but support civil unions. The poll was conducted March 23 through March 31. The margin of error is +/-3.1 percent for the full sample.
These findings are similar to Newsweek's survey from last December that found just 31 percent of those polled nationwide supporting a full-blown right to same-sex marriage. Americans are accepting of civil protections for legal same-sex unions. However, they continue to respect the institution of marriage as exclusive to that of one man and one woman.

But what will happen is that gay rights activists will spin the Iowa court ruling as signaling the inevitability of same-sex marriage accross the country?
Ben Smith notes this about the language of the court's holding:

It's really a sweeping, total win for the gay-rights side, rejecting any claim that objections to same-sex marriage can be seen as "rational," rejecting a parallel civil union remedy, and pronouncing same-sex marriages and gay and lesbian couples essentially normal.
So, as Andre Agassi used to say, "Image Is Everything."

Gird your loins, conservatives!


UPDATE: Robert Stacy McCain, in "
Iowa gay ruling: Power to the elites!", offers an informed response to Andrew Sullivan's gay marriage nihilism:

Andrew Sullivan is as free to marry a woman as I am, and I am prohibited (at least by the laws of my state) from marrying a man just as Sullivan is. We are, therefore, fully equal under the law, the only difference being that he desires to be married to a man and I do not. His desire for legal endorsement of his preference is thwarted, although his civil liberty is uninfringed.

Sullivan may own property, execute contracts, serve on juries, vote, drive, own firearms, etc., the same as anyone. Yet he makes a great show of his martyrdom to homophobia, so as to elicit pity, to qualify for the victim status that is so coveted in contemporary culture. And if you call bullshit on his histrionic display, you are a bigoted homophobe (since Sully arrogates to himself the power to decide who is or is not a homophobe).
Also, here's Ed Whelan at The Corner:

The lawless judicial attack on traditional marriage and on representative government continues. Today the Iowa supreme court ruled unanimously (7-0) that a “state statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution.” Amidst the opinion’s 69 pages of blather, there are two key assertions (and they’re nothing more than that):

(1) “[E]qual protection can only be defined by the standards of each generation.” (p. 16)
There's more at the link. John McCormack links to Whelan as well, "Iowa Court Imposes Same-Sex Marriage."

And, via Ben Smith:

Western Iowa Rep. Steve King:

This is an unconstitutional ruling and another example of activist judges molding the Constitution to achieve their personal political ends. Iowa law says that marriage is between one man and one woman. If judges believe the Iowa legislature should grant same sex marriage, they should resign from their positions and run for office, not legislate from the bench.

Now it is the Iowa legislature’s responsibility to pass the Marriage Amendment to the Iowa Constitution, clarifying that marriage is between one man and one woman, to give the power that the Supreme Court has arrogated to itself back to the people of Iowa. Along with a constitutional amendment, the legislature must also enact marriage license residency requirements so that Iowa does not become the gay marriage Mecca due to the Supreme Court’s latest experiment in social engineering.


Sam said...

To quote the decision itself:

"It is true the marriage statute does not expressly prohibit gay and lesbian persons from marrying; it does, however, require that if they marry, it must be to someone of the opposite sex. Viewed in the complete context of marriage, including intimacy, civil marriage with a person of the opposite sex is as unappealing to a gay or lesbian person as civil marriage with a person of the same sex is to a heterosexual. Thus, the right of a gay or lesbian person under the marriage statute to enter into a civil marriage only with a person of the opposite sex is no right at all."

rbosque. said...

The purpose of marriage is to form a family. It's a shame that this sacred union is being turned on its head.

dave in boca said...

"Power to the elites" in a state which is temperamentally and traditionally Republican in its leanings might mean that the Iowa constitution might be employed to have a referendum, California-style, which will reverse the judicial tyranny which led to this ruling and let the three-quarters majority opposed have their day in the voting booth.

However, Iowans are so "laid back" in temperament and style that getting the torch-and-pitchfork attitude going will be difficult.

Elites 1, The People 0. Another shutout.

Anonymous said...

Wait - you were impressed by this comment?

"Andrew Sullivan is as free to marry a woman as I am, and I am prohibited (at least by the laws of my state) from marrying a man just as Sullivan is. We are, therefore, fully equal under the law"

Really? Try that argument again with, let's say, "Andrea" Sullivan.

"Andrea Sullivan is as free to marry a woman as I am [well, no], and I am prohibited from marrying a man just as Andrea Sullivan is. [again, no]. We are, therefore, fully equal under the law [again, no]"

Now, it's fine if you want to be in favor of this inequality (though history will not judge you kindly), but R.S. McCain shouldn't pretend it's not inequality. Come on.

tracy said...

To rbosque: really? So senior citizens should be prevented from marriage? How about people that plan not to have children, or can't have children? They should not be allowed to marry?

To Dave in Boca: did you read the ruling? I did, in it's entirety. Note the Court was unanimous and it did not need to 'stretch' or 'reach' to make the ruling.

You may not like the result but it is pretty clear cut from a legal stand point the ruling was correct.

James Wolfer said...

plus "leaving it to the polls" as you indicate lets the majority choose civil rights...not good. The minority would get screwed over in that case. That's why we have the supreme courts: to decide if laws are constitutional.

If we left things up to the majority at all times we might still have slavery.

Anonymous said...

I agree with James Wolfer - the reason we have "judicial activists" is that minority rights cannot be entrusted to the majority. Slavery, religious persecutions, racial discrimination and gender inequalities have happened even under democratic governments, including our own. However unpopular at various points in our history, the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution remains a cornerstone of our rights for a reason. Sadly we only appreciate it when we are on the other side of the argument.

Look deep inside yourself and ask if you truly believe homosexuals are people, too. We protect race, ethnicity/origin, gender, age, and disability - which you could argue are things one can't change. We protect religion - which you could argue is a thing one can change. It doesn't matter whether you think sexual orientation is the former or the latter- it's pretty much universally agreed that marriage is a fundamental right, much as practicing your religion is.

What if you flipped R.S. McCain's argument on it's head and hypothetically banned Islam? "Andrew Sullivan is as free to practice Christianity as I am, and I am prohibited (at least by the laws of my state) from practicing Islam just as Sullivan is. We are, therefore, fully equal under the law, the only difference being that he desires to practice Islam and I do not."

I think the Iowa court did the right thing in recognizing equal protection under the law for homosexuals. This ruling takes nothing away from good Christian, conservative Americans. They are still free to practice their religion in their church and their religious institution of marriage remains intact. Freedom of religion still applies to choosing who is able to marry in your church. But now, other churches with different views can choose, if they so desire, to allow homosexuals to marry. Freedom of religion just got stronger. And the definition of civil marriage just got a little broader to accomodate both points of view.

Iowans should be proud. I'm proud of them.

GooseThunderfoot said...

When will Christians stop forcefully imposing their beliefs on others? Clearly, we haven't yet fully separated Church and State.
Funny thought: Wouldn't an amendment to the marriage laws that doesn't define a requirement for gender difference give everyone more rights? Even the religious zealots, in the rare chance that they decide to join the "dark side", would be free to enter a union with whomever they like. Quit defending your "sacred" ego!

Elizabeth said...

I just thank the Lord that my wife and I could get married and finally make our family a legal family. For the last 11 years we have struggled to attain fmaily rights between us and our daughter. This gay marraige law allowed our FAMILY to be a legal one and I am so thankful.

What is in my underwear does not make me a member of a family, it's what is in my heart. Protecting family means every family. Our children are all the same and they deserve the same protections as every one else.

So thank God for this ruling. I hope he continues to look down onto our family with blessings and love. May his love fill your hearts instead of Satan's hate filling your mouth.