Daily Archives: April 4, 2009

Same-sex marriage in the heartland suddenly changes the game radically

Photo illustration (disclaimer: these dudes may or may not be hot for each other or for any other dude or dudes… [Not that there is anything wrong with that!])

Des Moines, Iowa [from the Associated Press] – Gay marriage, seemingly the province of the nation’s two [liberal] coasts, is just weeks away from becoming a reality in the heartland, and apparently it will be years before social conservatives have a chance to stop it…. The only recourse for opponents appeared to be a constitutional amendment, which couldn’t get on the ballot until 2012 at the earliest….

I wanted to allow the news that Iowa right now is the third state with legalized same-sex marriage (after Massachusetts and Connecticut) to marinate my brain for a little while before I chimed in on the subject.

My first thoughts were that I had never even heard that Iowa was even anywhere close to having legalized same-sex marriage; why did this news apparently come out of the blue? I also wondered how safe legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa was, since we Californians had legalized same-sex marriage for fewer than six months before the wingnut “Christo”fascists, with Proposition 8, took our rights away like Cruela De Vil took away the puppies. And, of course, I was miffed that Iowa beat my home state of California.

I am happy to have learned since that Iowa’s same-sex marriages seem to be safe from wingnut “Christo”fascist reversal for at least the next few years. Whew.

And Iowa did and did not beat California on the same-sex marriage issue, depending upon how you look at it.

As of right now, today, Iowans have same-sex marriage rights but Californians don’t. Iowans. (Did I say “Iowans”?)

But California’s state Supreme Court did beat Iowa’s state Supreme Court to the same-sex marriage issue. The California Supreme Court ruled on May 15 that same-sex couples in the state must, under the rights guaranteed to them by the California state Constitution, be able to marry legally.

The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday — let me say again that the court ruled unanimously — that same-sex couples in Iowa must be allowed to wed legally. (California’s highest court had ruled in favor of same-sex marriage by only 4-3, I’m chagrined to admit. However, six of the seven California Supreme Court justices were appointed by Repugnican governors, so that gives the 4-3 ruling more significance, I think. [Iowa’s Supreme Court also has seven justices, by the way.])

California was the second state, after Massachusetts, to have achieved legalized same-sex marriage. (Massachusetts was the first to have put a same-sex couple on the moon, so to speak, with its top state court ruling in 2004 that to ban same-sex marriage violates the state’s constitution.) This past November, Connecticut became the third state to establish that same-sex marriage must be allowed under state law. Iowa is the fourth state to have achieved legalized same-sex marriage.

After California made it to No. 2 in May, a slim majority of California voters — swayed by millions of dollars that the Mormon and Catholic cults poured into hateful, bigoted and false political advertising in the state — decided in November (with Prop 8) to write ignorance, hatred and bigotry into the California Constitution, so that today, same-sex couples may not legally marry in California.

The California Supreme Court in May had ruled that state codes (over which the court has full jurisdiction) outlawing same-sex marriage were unconstitutional; at that time, the state’s Constitution (which is the upper limit of the court’s jurisdiction) did not prohibit same-sex marriage, so the haters decided (with Prop 8) to write unlawful, un-American discrimination into the state Constitution.

The California Supreme Court is expected to rule no later than in June on whether the results of Prop 8 will be upheld or shot down. It remains to be seen whether the same California Supreme Court that in May granted same-sex couples the right to marry will decide whether it has jurisdiction over the constitutionality of the state Constitution itself; this is a very sticky legal issue. (I believe that of course the court can shoot down anything the voters approve that is unconstitutional, under the principle that the tyranny of the majority over oppressed minorities must not stand, that equal human and civil rights may not be put up for a vote. But, of course, I’m not a lawyer…)

Just the day before yesterday, it was looking pretty gloomy for California; would the state Supreme Court shoot down the will of 52 percent of California’s voters?

With only Massachusetts and Connecticut having legalized same-sex marriage as of just the day before yesterday, it probably seemed safer for the California Supreme Court to shoot down same-sex marriage then than it does now, with Iowa poised to recognize same-sex marriages on April 24.

Suddenly, same-sex marriage isn’t the province of only the liberal East and West coasts (or, as they sometimes call my coast, the “Left Coast,” a designation that I embrace wholeheartedly).

Suddenly, same-sex marriage isn’t just a solid blue-state thing anymore. Suddenly, it’s about what it always has been about all along: equal human and civil rights for every American.

Take a look at where Iowa is on the map:

(Iowa, for those of you who need the assistance, is “IA.”) There it is, Iowa (IA), surrounded by Kansas (KS), Nebraska (NE), South Dakota (SD) and Missouri (MO). (Iowa, in case you were wondering, went to Barack Obama, 54 percent to Repugnican John McCainosaurus’ 45 percent. Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Missouri all went to McCainosaurus, with Missouri being the closest, 49 percent to 49 percent, with Obama losing to McCainosaurus by fewer than 5,000 votes.)

When same-sex couples in Iowa are getting married, will the California Supreme Court — which already ruled, in May, that same-sex couples in California should be able to marry legally — uphold the bigots’ Prop 8?

I tend to think not.

But even if the California Supreme Court does uphold Prop 8, will the California voters, the next time that the issue of same-sex marriage were put before them, vote in such a way that California is outdone by Iowa?

I don’t fucking think so.

P.S. Making all of this even more interesint is that the fifth state to have achieved legalized same-sex marriage might be the state that started it all: Vermont.

Vermont, the first state to offer same-sex couples civil unions (which confer all of the state rights granted to married heterosexual couples except for the title of “marriage”), might be the fifth state to achieve legalized same-sex marriage if the state’s House of Representatives, which this past week voted 95-52 for legalized same-sex marriage in the state, can override Repugnican Gov. Jim Douglas’ veto threat, which would require two-thirds of the house members to vote for same-sex marriage. (Um, how in the fuck did Vermont end up with a Repugnican governor anyway?)

If Vermont’s House of Representatives can get just five of the “no” votes to switch sides, Douglas’ veto can be overriden; Vermont’s Senate already overwhelmingly voted in favor of same-sex marriage, 26-4.

Douglas’ promised veto could be overriden as early as within the next week.

P.P.S. OK, so I’ve bashed Iowa some here, but I noted this paragraph in an Associated Press story:

Iowa has a history of being in the forefront on social issues. It was among the first states to legalize interracial marriage and to allow married women to own property. It was also the first state to admit a woman to the bar to practice law and was a leader in school desegregation.

OK, so I guess that I am humbled. My state — which used to be considered the bellwether state, didn’t it? — achieved legalized same-sex marriage but couldn’t keep it. However, I’m confident that we’ll get it back.

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