Iowa & Vermont just became the third and fourth American states to legalise gay marriage. They join Massachusetts and Connecticut in a small but no doubt slowly growing club: states who are no longer bound to bigotry against their own citizens. Running score: Humanity – 4; Dark-Aged superstitious bollocks – 46. But the human beings are making ground.
Also, it seems DC is now willing to recognise same-sex marriages performed in other states. Do I hear a tide turning here? Sploosh, sploosh. Yes. Yes, I do. I’m willing to take bets on how long it takes the remaining 46 to come around (in the case of Calfiornia, to come back around). It might take a decade or even a few decades, but one thing’s for sure: it’s inevitable. Fighting this is as effective as Canute attempting to hold back the ocean.
Predictably, various proponents of the “gay marriage = slippery slope to hell in a handbasket where everyone can marry their sister” or “omg the liberal ay-leet are a-tryin’ to dess-troy Jeee-zuss with their The Gay Agendas!” arguments are coming out of the woodwork, riding their highest horses onto oversized soapboxes and, well, bitching and moaning like a pack of moaning bitches. Some make the arse-backwards claim that The Gays are trying to destory marriage itself! Well, somebody needs to explain that to me. Gay couples want to be a part of something that they’ve been excluded from for their entire lives – how does that equate to wanting to destroy it? All gay people want is the same thing everyone else gets: the right, bestowed at birth, to marry the love of their life. They don’t want to ruin it for anyone, including themselves.
Of course (and as usual) when it comes to fundamentalist hand-wringing loons, the reality of the situation is something completely different. They say it’ll destroy the institution of marriage, they say it’ll mean the end of the family, some even seem to think it’s all part of The Gay Agenda’s plan to have The Gay taught in every schoolroom in the country (and by “The Gay” these people mean “have sex with anything, anywhere, anytime”). However, what they really mean is “Wah. Sob. We’re losing our grip on an exclusive Christian heterosexual privilege that we didn’t earn (but got really, really used to having, puh-raise Jee-zuss) and have really only held onto through laziness/reluctance/fear of losing votes on the part of the legislature and disproportionate fundamentalist representation & lobbying in government going back two or three decades. Oh noes! People are waking up and realising that not only will they not go to Hell for giving The Gays equality, they’re also starting to realise we in the Religious Right are not as numerous or important as everybody used to think we are (and they may be onto the fact that we’re hyper-reactionary & paranoid with delusions of persecution – or perhaps they’ve just realised we’re full of shit)! And not only that, it’s all happening democratically and we on the nutjob fringe don’t have the numbers to stem the tide forever! Oh, and thinking about gays just makes me feel … icky … so they shouldn’t get to marry each other. It’s unnatural … or something. There’s even something in Leviticus about them being, well, icky, in the eyes of God (but we won’t discuss the other parts of the Bible that make selling my daughters into slavery or killing the children of my enemies or massacring, with bears, children who tease bald people just fine – they’re just metaphors, outdated tribal moralities or other things that can be described by various phrases designed to both support our bigotry and deflect criticism of it).”
Tough cheese, brethren. You’ve had it your way for long enough and it’s time to let the other kids play. Time for equality – not “special rights”, not privileges above and beyond those of good ol’ God-fearin’ straight folk – just the same rights and the same privileges everyone who happens to like the opposite sex gets. Hell, some would argue that it’s straight people who’ve had the special treatment for so long and that it’s simply time to level the playing field for everyone.
As any childcare worker or nanny could tell you, the kid who gets spoiled rotten his whole life and suddenly gets asked to include other kids in his sandbox is always going to throw a tantrum. So what do you do? Give him a cuddle and make the others go away? Or tell him to harden up and deal with reality? You can’t insulate yourself from stuff you find objectionable forever. After all, people here in the real world have been tolerating bleating fundie idiocracy and its accompanying rise to inordinate levels of power and influence for years. Well, it’s time for a dose of reality. Time for all hysterical homophobes to harden up and deal with the inevitable progress of fairness & equality – or be remembered in a similar light as those who opposed Rosa Parks sitting where she damn well pleased.
What follows is an abridged version of the Iowa Supreme Court Opinion upholding gay marriage: KATHERINE VARNUM vs. TIMOTHY J. BRIEN, Polk County Recorder. Decision date: April 3, 2009.
Who would have thought that the next state to recognize gay rights was going to be Iowa? Right out here in the heartland, neighbor of Missouri, where I live? Many these states in the Midwest have taken pains to amend their laws to forbid gay marriage.
I am highly impressed by the Court’s ruling and opinion in the case of Varnum vs. Brien, the Iowa Supreme Court Opinion upholding gay marriage (here’s the full text of the opinion).
Here’s Des Moines Register’s brief description of the holding. It is an extraordinary opinion, extremely well-written and well-reasoned. It is extraordinary for both the legal analysis and for the emotional and social insights expressed by the court. This Court really gets what is at stake in this case, and did hide from any of the arguments asserted by the County.
It’s amazing what happens when you carefully lay out all of the arguments for the world to see, and I do believe that the Court covered all of the arguments expressed by those who are opposed to gay marriage, even a big argument that the anti-gay-marriage forces didn’t have the courage to raise in the courts (religious objections). Because the Court took the time to carefully lay out all of those anti-gay-marriage arguments, we can all see how empty and paranoid they sound in the abstract. When we see the anti-gay-marriage arguments calmly on paper, without the angry faces and the megaphones, we see them as the specious arguments they truly are.
Today, I took the time to read the entire 70-page opinion by the Iowa Supreme Court. It occurred to me, though, that many people (especially non-lawyers) might not want to work their way through the entire opinion. Therefore, I have created this “abridged” version, preserving the significant points, but redacting the citations and technical points. This actual words of the Court’s opinion are truly worth your while. Don’t settle for the simplified news media stories on this decision. This court’s opinion is professional and inspirational. In it’s thoroughness and directness regarding a tumultuous subject, it reminds me of the Pennsylvania decision of Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., (full decision of the Dover decision here).
In this legal decision, the Iowa Supreme Court takes the long view of history, as you can see at page 16, where the Court points out that it prohibited slavery more than 15 years before the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the rights of slave-owners in the Dred Scott case. This discussion is on the mark, given that any legislation curtailing the rights of gays is based on bigotry. The Court has a long analysis ready for those who would argue that homosexuality is a choice, starting around page 41 in the “immutability” section. The also Court slams the concept of “civil union” as a second rate version of marriage (for example, see page 9).
What was at stake in this case was Iowa Code section 595.2(1), which ostensibly provides:
“[o]nly a marriage between a male and a female is valid.”
The Court considered a mountain of evidence and reviewed dozens of amicus briefs (briefs from interested individuals and organizations who are not direct parties) before rendering its opinion.
Based on a unanimous ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court, Iowa has become the third state in the nation to allow gay marriage (joining Connecticut and Massachusetts). The following excerpt is from the Desmoine Register:
Iowa’s gay marriage ban “is unconstitutional, because the county has been unable to identify a constitutionally adequate justification for excluding plaintiffs from the institution of civil marriage,” Cady wrote in the 69-page opinion that seemed to dismiss the concept of civil unions as an option for gay couples.
“A new distinction based on sexual orientation would be equally suspect and difficult to square with the fundamental principles of equal protection embodied in our constitution,” Cady wrote.
The ruling, however, also addressed what it called the “religious undercurrent propelling the same-sex marriage debate,” and said judges must remain outside the fray. . .
“Our constitution does not permit any branch of government to resolve these types of religious debates and entrusts to courts the task of ensuring that government avoids them,” the opinion says.
The ruling explicitly does not affect “the freedom of a religious organization to define marriage it solemnizes as unions between a man and a woman,” the justices stressed.
Although I haven’t yet read the opinion, it sounds like the Justices are pointing to a common-sense compromise to the gay marriage dispute: The civil ceremony applies to any two people and the state must not discriminate as to sex by requiring those two people to be of the opposite sex. The state-sanctioned marriage will endow all couples equally with all of the legal benefits of marriage. On the other hand, religions are free to define marriage as they would like. A conservative church would be free to reject an application to marry same sex couples. I think that this is the best way to approach the national divide. If your religion is really important to you, go ahead and let your religion (not your government) define marriage. In the meantime, don’t try to deny government benefits to others based upon sex differences.
When I read the opinion, I’m interested in knowing how the Court found discrimination. After all, the traditional government definition is not anti-woman or anti-man. In a sense, it’s even-handed. From the perspective of any gay person seeking to be married, though, that definition trods on what I would agree to be fundamental liberties such as the right to associate. After I review the opinion, I’ll add a comment.
Palin argues that Obama is trying to steal your freedom by stealing your money. He’s essentially a Communist, and he wants to give your money to someone else, like they do in some other countries where people aren’t free. Or so the argument goes (Huffington Post interprets Palin’s rant similarly). I think I know what […]
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