Last year I wrote about Tawn and I planning to get married in California when we returned to visit family over the holidays. That plan was upset by the voters of California, who passed Proposition 8 thanks largely to the help of a (possibly illegal) injection of funds by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
That said, it looks like we may have another marriage option when we return to Kansas City this summer to see the family: Iowa.
That’s right, restrictions to same-sex marriage have been overturned by the Iowa State Supreme Court and marriages will begin before the end of the month.
Does this surprise you as much as it surprises me? It seems it shouldn’t. Iowa has a history of being a progressive state. It was one of the first to allow interracial marriage and women to own property. It ended segregation shortly after the Civil War. It was the first state to allow a woman to practice law and it was a leader in school desegregation. The governor and legislature are Democratic.
Based on the first news reports, those opposed to same-sex marriage aren’t rushing to the “activist judges” defense quite as quickly. For starters, the court issued a 7-0 ruling in favor of striking down bans on same-sex marriage. There was no split decision.
Furthermore, the state constitution requires a lengthy process to be changed: two consecutive legislatures have to pass the amendment and then it has to be approved by voters, too. That’s at least a two-year process and current Democratic leadership has indicated that they’re not inclined to introduce such an amendment.
The third reason the same-sex marriage opponents probably haven’t done the “activist judges” route is that the court’s decision addresses the role of the court to make this decision, walking step by step through the role of the three branches of government in the State of Iowa. The full decision, which is interesting reading, can be found here. Quoting from that decision:
A statute inconsistent with the Iowa Constitution must be declared void, even though it may be supported by strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion. Iowa Const. art. XII, § 1 (providing any law inconsistent with the constitution is void). As Chief Justice John Marshall wrote over two centuries ago, “It is a proposition too plain to be contested, that the constitution controls any legislative act repugnant to it . . . .” Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 177, 2 L. Ed. 60, 73 (1803).
Like any journey towards equality, this one is a long, slow march. But today, we’ve taken another step to the point where we look back and ask ourselves, “What was all the fuss over same-sex marriage about?”