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Celebrate gay rights, but recognize it as a nonissue

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | APRIL 27, 2009 7:26 AM

An interesting case of news that isn’t news: Today’s the day that gay and lesbian marriages make their way into documented history for the state of Iowa. What makes this news isn’t the bright glare of utter precedent, or the roiling excitement of the gay community’s sudden break into what could be called legitimacy, or even the fact that it’s happening today. What makes it news is that the issue is still unaccountably an issue.

Today, marriage licenses will be put to the books, and after the standard Iowa three-day waiting period, the homo-knots can be tied just as tightly as the hetero. But a different line of attack has been angling in since the unanimous ruling weeks ago confirmed the unconstitutionality of banning same-sex marriage — instead of howling to the rafters about the meaning of marriage, the “rights” of those who “can” marry, or generally taking the civilized, adult steps within legal arenas to correct what some see as a gross perversion of morality, some groups, including the Iowa Family Policy Center, have begun building petitions to send to county recorders. The gist of these worthless lists of ignorance? “When gay people apply for a marriage license, just say no.”

Now, there’s got to be some credence to the idea that when the law undermines what is seen to be right, then movement outside the law is the only way to correct the wrong. Opinion (“conviction” might as well be synonymous, given the moral trend of most of these dissenting anti-same-sex voices) will always be the major crux of any legal or political alteration (synonym: “evolution”), and yes, considering, debating and wrenching the opinions of everyone into a framework that will benefit everyone is tough. But this is absurd, on top of just petty. With his petition, Chuck Hurley, the president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, is making an appeal to the moral, virtuous hearts of those few levels of bureaucracy that wield any power in the matter of same-sex marriage to veer into personal bias instead of this everyone framework. He’s straight-up asking people, on a personal level, to disregard legality and exercise a nonexistent individual prerogative to discriminate.

And yet, those with any amount of perspective know how fruitless it is. We’ve won, Chuck, and while it’s definitely your right to grumble about it, your ad hominem campaign is just plain tacky. Sioux County Recorder Anita Van Bruggen said, “My personal belief is that a marriage should be between a man and a woman, but I did take an oath of office as county recorder which states that I support the Constitution of the state of Iowa, so I will be treating all applications for marriage licenses the same — it’s simple as that.” Ah, the light of civilization breaks forth. See? A personal belief that doesn’t hinder the rights of others.

That’s why this isn’t news. Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal’s already said, “I see a bunch of people who merely want to profess their love for each other and want state law to recognize that.” It doesn’t matter. It’s a nonissue. Today is a proud day, an important day, and it’s vital that everyone recognize it, hell, even if you aren’t gay, celebrate it. But then move on. It isn’t, shouldn’t, be news.


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