"We are firmly convinced that the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective," the court said in an opinion written by Justice Mark Cady. "The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification.".... "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," Cady wrote.
The promise of equal protection for all. Seldom have seven words carried such weight...but it's goes to the very heart of the argument over the issue of gay marriage. At stake here is whether or not government should have hatred and discrimination enshrined as a formal statutory duty. Should our tax dollars be used to enforce the narrow, hateful bigotry of Social Conservatives and self-professed "Christians"...or should government stick to the "big stuff" like defense and foreign policy? Do I REALLY need to answer this question??
Iowa is just about the last place I would have expected to be a leader in terms of groundbreaking social policy, but change has to begin somewhere, no? If the Supreme Court of a Conservative heartland state can recognize that a just and compassionate government must not, and should not, have a compelling interest in legislating discrimination camouflaged as morality, perhaps there really is hope for us.
If you oppose gay marriage, you of course have a simple choice open to you- don't enter into one. That's the beautiful thing about love and marriage- it's a choice. If you happen to be wired differently from me, who am I to say whether the choices you make are appropriate or inappropriate, moral or immoral? Love is a personal choice, and sometimes people make choices that astound, challenge, of offend the sensibilities of others. What I fail to understand is why and how this should be the statutory basis of government social policy. What public interest is served by discriminating against a class of people who simply want to be able to enjoy the SAME benefits that accrue to heterosexual couples? How do we as a society benefit by making discriminating against those we fear and despise the law of the land?
For those who would oppose gay marriage while standing in the soft sand of "family values", I would only ask when hatred and bigotry became "family values"? When did hating someone for who they love become a core value of the Christian faith? And what is it that you find so threatening about two people of the same gender loving one another? Is it really about procreation? Or is it about your fear and ignorance of a lifestyle you know little of and care even less about? What purpose is served by continuing to treat a class of tax-paying Americans as second-class citizens?
Speaking only for myself, I know gay couples and I have gay friends and coworkers. Their lifestyle is a nonissue for me; it's not a choice I would make for myself, but neither would I presume to have the right to deny their pursuit of happiness as they might define it. The interests of society are served by encouraging long-term stable relationships. That some of these relationships might be defined as "non-traditional" still doesn't take away from the reality that stable, long-term relationships are a very good thing for all of us. We should be encouraging this sort of thing, not moralizing and legislating against it.
None of us should have the right to deny happiness to others simply out of fear, ignorance, and/or hatred. That others may live and love differently makes them neither immoral nor sinful...it simply makes them different. I applaud the Iowa Supreme Court for having the courage and the foresight to recognize this, and to come down with a decision that recognizes that government has no compelling interest in furthering hatred and discrimination.
Perhaps there really is hope for us....