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Gay marriage in Iowa a point of national pride

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | APRIL 06, 2009 7:30 AM

As the argument over gay marriage will no doubt continue in other parts of our nation, Iowa has taken a triumphant step away from most other states, a step away from the inequality of the past and toward a slowly evolving America focused on “with liberty and justice for all.”

This is not to say that the April 3 decision allowing gay marriage in the state of Iowa won’t be debated or questioned or that those who oppose the court’s ruling won’t redouble their efforts to impose their beliefs and overturn the latest precedent. However, the monumental finding that greeted news readers across the nation on websites April 3 and in newspapers over the weekend has set a defining tone that — hopefully — will ring throughout the rest of the nation in the months and years to come.

Directly from the court’s official decision:

“Civil marriage must be judged under our constitutional standards of equal protection and not under religious doctrines or the religious views of individuals. This approach does not disrespect or denigrate the religious views of many Iowans who may strongly believe in marriage as a dual-gender union, but considers, as we must, only the constitutional rights of all people, as expressed by the promise of equal protection for all.”

To continue to disregard some aspects of our society and to deny those we may chose to disagree with an avenue in life that we may take for granted is simply not defensible. It is not just, nor is it tolerant, nor is it American. Iowa now grants the simple opportunity for two individuals who love each other enough to commit their lives to each other to be recognized as equal to any other. For equality to truly survive and prosper across our country, it is imperative that the baby-steps mentality of progress be adopted, and in doing so, this ruling should be observed by those who disagree with it as acceptance of something very simple, but incredibly critical to our existence as human beings: love.

Iowa’s Supreme Court does not condone (nor does it condemn) the gay and lesbian lifestyle with the decision. An Associated Press story this weekend refers to Iowa as not commonly considered a “vanguard of social liberalism.” This is true, but it points our thoughts on this issue into the wrong direction. Conservative, liberal, or in between, political leanings need to be disregarded. The paramount consideration that this decision focuses on is not homosexual activity, heterosexual acceptance, or any other facet of this long-since-tired debate, but the simple priority of individual equality. Christian conservatives and others can continue their arguments against the concept of homosexuality, just as they should, if those are truly their intellectual priorities. What was at stake in the case was not the wrong and right side of a debate but one of the very basic promises that our society is founded upon: equality.

This decision does not affect every Iowan. It does not affect those who are not gay or lesbian. No harm, financial, legal, social, or otherwise, will befall a single heterosexual individual because of this finding, and to believe otherwise or to carry away from April 3 some sense of great wronging, that the fabric of our communities will somehow be torn because two people who love each other can now be recognized the same as any other couple, is simply an opinion, reasonable if still offensive, and just — but not by any measurable legal or constitutional means.

Gay pride now has a home in the heartland. More than that, so does equality, and for that, our pride as Iowans today is even greater.


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