Iowa OKs Gay Marriage, WWCD? (What Will California Do?)

The unanimous decision last week by the Iowa Supreme Court allowing same-sex marriage appears to have surprised many same-sex marriage advocates around the country, and no doubt shocked and shook up many Religious Right leaders. A post-ruling joint statement issued by Iowa’s Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and House Speaker Pat Murphy pointed out that the court’s decision is in keeping with that state’s “long history of justice.”

“Iowa has always been a leader in the area of civil rights, read Gronstal and Murphy’s statement:  

…. In 1839, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected slavery in a decision that found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the Civil War decided the issue.  

In 1868, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated “separate but equal” schools had no place in Iowa, 85 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.  

In 1873, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against racial discrimination in public accommodations, 91 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision. In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law.  

In the case of recognizing loving relationships between two adults, the Iowa Supreme Court is once again taking a leadership position on civil rights….  

Jim Burroway, the editor of Box Turtle Bulletin, an invaluable source of information on anti-gay movements and activities, compiled a collection of comments from a handful of Religious Right leaders:  

U.S. Supreme Court long ago rejected the untenable notion that ‘equal protection’ requires two biologically incompatible persons to be permitted to ‘marry.’ Marriage, of course, by its very spiritual, historical and biological nature, requires binary compatibility. It is no more discriminatory to disallow two men from marrying each other, than it is to prohibit a man from marrying his house plant.—Matt Barber, Director of Cultural Affairs with both Liberty Counsel and Liberty Alliance Action, and Associate Dean with Liberty University School of Law  

…Iowans should write a rock-solid marriage amendment, one that is much stronger than amendments in California, Oregon and Washington, which still allowed counterfeit marriages and immoral policies forcing insurance plans and private businesses to subsidize pseudo-marriages. Iowans should also take care to prevent the civil institution of marriage from being someday abolished, and must biologically define a man and a woman to ensure that the distinct, God-given genders of a husband and wife cannot be perverted. — Randy Thomasson, President of and  

Until we rightly handle these issues in God’s house, we will continue to fail in the court house, the state house and the school house. George Washington warned us it would be impossible to rightly govern without the Bible, until we repent and return to those same principles, we will fail to properly govern and succeed as a nation. — Concerned Women for America of Iowa  

Today Iowa becomes the first state not on either of the nation’s two liberal coasts to impose counterfeit, homosexual ‘marriage’ or its mischievous twin, ‘civil unions’ on its citizens through judicial tyranny. To call this decision bankrupt is to understate its perniciousness. The evil genius of the pro-sodomy movement is that it targets noble institutions like marriage and adoption in the name of ‘rights,’ and then perverts and uses them to normalize aberrant and destructible behaviors. — Peter LaBarbera, President of Americans For Truth (about Homosexuality


According to the Associated Press, same-sex couples may be able to exchange vows as early as April 24. “The only recourse for opponents appeared to be a constitutional amendment, which couldn’t get on the ballot until 2012 at the earliest,” AP reported. Senate Majority Leader Gronstal, “said state lawmakers were unlikely to consider gay marriage legislation in this legislative session, which is expected to end within weeks,” and he added that he was “not inclined” to have a constitutional amendment introduced during next year’s session. “Without a vote by the Legislature this year or next, the soonest gay marriage could be repealed would be 2014,” AP pointed out. “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,” said Iowa Congressman Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron).  

(A summary of the decision from the Iowa Supreme Court can be found here [pdf] and the full decision can be read here [pdf])  

Inquiring minds want to know whether the Iowa decision will have any bearing on the California Supreme Court which is expected to rule on the validity of Proposition 8—the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage which passed in November of last year—in early June. Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and lead counsel for same-sex couples and Equality California in Strauss v. Horton, the challenge to Proposition 8, is cautiously optimistic. Minter issued a statement that pointed out that the spotlight is now focused on the California Supreme Court, “which must determine whether equal protection means equal, and whether Californians will continue to share that equality in the freedom to marry,” and said that “we sincerely hope the California Court will uphold the principles of equality, just as the Iowa Supreme Court has done.”'

Read all of Bill Berkowitz?s articles here and sign up for his RSS feed here. *** Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer and longtime observer of the conservative movement.