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Monday was the one year anniversary of the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act.  We’ve seen our Governor flip flop on the issue and have seen the arrogance of the Democratic Leadership in Iowa’s Legislature in willfully denying the right of the people of Iowa to vote on the matter.

In this year-long debate I’ve kept hearing the civil rights meme brought up over and over and over again.  On Monday, Craig Robinson at The Iowa Republican made some great points about viewing gay marriage in light of the civil rights argument that I couldn’t have said better myself.

Comparing the struggle of gay couples to what African-Americans, or women for that matter, had to endure in the past is disingenuous. Gay couples are not singled out and treated differently because of their appearance, as was the case with the civil rights movement. Gay couples instead have sought special rights based solely on their behavior.

If gay marriage is the civil rights issue of our time, then why are Culver and Gronstal unwilling to pass legislation that would put gay marriage rights into the Iowa code? The only way to guarantee gay couples the right to marry is to either pass a law allowing it or amend our constitution to support it. Instead, they cling to a court decision that validates their support of gay marriage.

The reason Iowans should have the right to vote on the issue of gay marriage is because our elected officials are cowards. Senator Grostal and Speaker of the House Pat Murphy both refuse to let a vote on a constitutional amendment see the light of day. The entire American system is based on representative government, yet on this issue, Governor Culver and Democrat legislative leaders has basically told the people of Iowa to shut up and deal with the Court’s ruling.

The people have a right to weigh in on this issue whether Culver or Gronstal think it is a civil rights issue or not. The 13th, 15th, and 19th Amendments to the US Constitution all dealt with civil rights and all went through the necessary process to be ratified. So why are we treating gay rights differently than the civil rights of African Americans or women? Because politicians like Mike Gronstal and Chet Culver know that there is no way the people of Iowa would vote to grant special rights to gay couples.

We have a right to vote.  This should not be left to the courts to decide.

21 comments
  1. “If gay marriage is the civil rights issue of our time, then why are Culver and Gronstal unwilling to pass legislation that would put gay marriage rights into the Iowa code?”

    Civil rights are not something that are put to a vote in a country and a state built on the premise that we are equal. The abolition of slavery was not a ballot issue. The right of non-land owners to vote was not put to a vote. The desegregation of public schools was not a public measure. And, the terms of the legal marriage contract have never been on the ballot before.

    The piece said, “Gay couples instead have sought special rights based solely on their behavior,” when in fact same-sex marriage is not about special treatment, but equal treatment.

    1. @Graham Gillette, See we can go round and round on this. No, it’s about special treatment. Unlike gender and color, sexual preference is a choice. There is not scientific evidence that says otherwise. I won’t deny that there is a proclivity for some to engage in that behavior, but I would also suggest that has more to do with nurture than nature. What makes it special rights is that homosexuals already have the right like the rest of us Iowans to marry someone of the opposite sex. The fact they don’t want to exercise that right is their choice.

      1. @Shane Vander Hart – I think that gay Americans have the same rites as others with the exception of marriage. In many places in Europe the civil marital ceremony precedes the religious one. I am not sure why we in this country mix the civil and the religious.. it may cloud the issue.

        I have not done a huge amount of thinking about homosexuality but I do wonder if in some (maybe even rare) cases there is a genetic issue going on.. seems like there are other behaviors (like alcoholism) that have ties to genetics.. but I may simply be totally off base.. not an expert on this one at all.. and would not want to frame the issue negatively.
        .-= Kansas Bob´s last blog ..Put Out to Pasture =-.

      2. @Shane Vander Hart, you are being disingenuous. We can argue about whether sexual preference is a choice (and there is a large body of scientific evidence that indicates homosexuality is not a choice, e.g. documented homosexual behavior in most species of animals. But that is neither here nor there, really…).

        In the end, the issue is not about sexual preference discrimination, but against mere sexual discrimination. If the government was allowing two straight men to marry, and disallowing to gay men, that would be sexual preference discrimination. But because the law denies two people of the same sex to marry, it is discrimination based on sex, plain and simple. You can’t discriminate based on sex, Shane, it’s Constitution 101!
        .-= Guy Incognito´s last blog ..Breaking the Commandments =-.

      3. @Shane, I have really got an opinion on the nature/nature theory of homosexuality, scientifically the jury is still out either way, but it isn’t relevant to our discussion.

        Why would two straight men marry? Well, the “why” of it doesn’t really matter, it is merely academic. I am giving an example of what discrimination based on sexual orientation looks like, to contrast with sex/gender based discrimination. *Sexual orientation* discrimination is saying two gay men can’t get married, while *sex* discrimination is saying two men of any orientation can’t get married.

        It is an important legal distinction, because discriminatory laws based on sex requires a higher level of judicial scrutiny than does discrimination based on sexual orientation. The problem is not about “gay” marriage per se, is is about the legal institution of marriage being discriminatory on the basis of sex, which is in violation of the fourteenth amendment (as Iowans have recognized).

        Essentially, Shane, you would need to have a constitutional amendment to make it OK to discriminate on the basis of sex in the case of marriage, then you will have a sound legal argument for prohibiting gay marriage. But not until that day.
        .-= Guy Incognito´s last blog ..Cyclopes =-.

      4. @Shane Vander Hart, sorry, I am not use this response format. I responded below, but it was not in the thread. I will paste that response here:

        There is less scientific evidence to show homosexuality is, as you say, a choice than there is pointing to genetics, but that has nothing to with the issue. Let’s see if we can agree on this. We are all created equal. No single trait (color, sex, heritage, etc.), or choice we make (religion, poltical belief, etc.) can strip of us that equality. Agreed?

        Assuming you do agree, let me take this one more step. The state establishes laws to ensure its people live freely and to provide them with certain protections of their rights. Marriage is a legal contract under the eyes of the state. As Kansas Bob rightly points out, this is different than the religious context of marriage. The legal contract of marriage provides two people the ability to select the other person as their partner in all of life’s decisions. A spouse plays the dominant role in decision making and matters involving his or her spouse. A marriage contract is recognized by the courts as paramount to all others and in doing so places the spouse above all others in establishing legal decisions in familial relationships. This is why it does not extend to multiple partners, Foxfier. A person can only name one person in a marriage partnership, because only one can serve in that utmost of contractual roles at a time.

        Let me end with this. This is about choice, Shane, but not a choice with which you seem to be concerned, sex. The choice is that of selecting a life partner, a next of kin, a legally recognized spouse. The legal contract of marriage as defined by the state cannot be dictated by the type of human plumbing with which a person is equipped. For the state can no more stipulate that a legal contract is only valid if one partner is a man and the other a woman any more than it can stipulate that the contract is valid only if the parties are of the same race. Note: sex and race are but two human traits and neither has anything to with whom one has sex. They are but two gifts with which we are endowed at birth, and no one of these can be used to create a special group in a land where we are all created equal. It has nothing to do with the act of having sex, chosen or genetically dictated.

        The choice of a partner can only be made by those entering the marriage contract. Any stipulation of the law that grants the ability to marry only to one group (one man and one woman) violates the constitutional tenet of equality by creating special treatment of that group. The special treatment is being sought by you, Shane. You seem to want to dictate that only those who you deem worthy can marry and that is just flat out unfair and flies in the face of freedom and individual rights.

      5. @Graham Gillette, I agree that we are created equal which means I believe that we should have the equal right to marry someone of the opposite sex. I told you we would go round and round on this. They want special rights, not equal rights. You see that with this, and with anti-bullying legislation, hate crimes legislation, etc. They don’t want to be treated equal. I know I won’t convince you, your mind is made up and your argument wasn’t convincing for me as well.

        But, in my opinion, no one has the right to redefine marriage, least of all seven justices who are unelected. Graham, as was pointed out by Craig civil rights have gone through the constitutional amendment process. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for homosexuals to do the same. Or are you saying they should get special treatment? You’ve neglected the crux of Craig’s argument. Why should we treat them differently than African-Americans?

      6. @Shane Vander Hart, Thanks for your response. You may be right that we will only go in circles, but I appreciate your willingness to do so. I genuinely would like to understand your position. It seems paradoxical to me at this point. I am not trying to play a game, nor do I think I will change your mind. I value the time and effort you take to consider the important issues of our times and am confident that only by listening to thoughtful people and trying to see things from their point of view can I learn.

        If it is OK, I am going to churn this around in my mind for a bit and get back to you later. This nagging work thing keeps getting in the way…

  2. I find it’s telling what folks will ignore to push forward their views. (I’m still waiting for an argument in support of homosexual marriage that won’t also work for multiple marriage.)

    Of course, I’d really like an interview with one of the early bi-racial couples where they ask if the black lady is equivilant to a man or whatever permutation suits….

    A homosexual woman has exactly the same right I do: to marry a man who is of legal age, not previously married and not too closely tied by family. I got lucky and got to marry my best friend, who I love, but that’s not part of the law….

    1. @Foxfier, if you’re really waiting for an argument that “doesn’t also work for multiple marriages” that is simple enough. Prohibition of gay marriage is discrimination against individuals based on sex.

      To say that a man has a right to enter into a marriage with a person who is female but not with a person who is male discriminates against that man on the basis of his sex. We are protected against sex discrimination in government institutions the same as we are protected from racial discrimination, it is called “equal protection under the law.”

      A person cannot, for example, deny a concealed carry permit to a person because of their sex, this would be a violation of civil rights, just as prohibition of same sex marriage is. Bigamy or polygamy on the other hand, are a question of numbers, not of sex. Only two people can be in a marriage at a time under the law, this is not sex discrimination, it is numeric discrimination, which is not a violation of civil rights. Q.E.D.
      .-= Guy Incognito´s last blog ..Breaking the Commandments =-.

      1. @Guy Incognito,

        Changing the existing contract, “marriage,”
        from
        “union of male and female, not currently married adults not closely related”
        to
        “union of two not currently married adults not closely related”

        vs

        “union of three not currently married adults not closely related”
        or
        “union of adults not closely related”
        or
        “union of adults.”

        Only two people can be in a marriage at a time under the law, this is not sex discrimination, it is numeric discrimination, which is not a violation of civil rights. Q.E.D.

        People can marry someone of the opposite sex under the law. No matter what sex you are, you can marry someone of the opposite sex. (presuming you can find someone who will say yes, to avoid the obvious joke)

        To use your other example:
        If you fit the legal requirements for a CC permit, you can get a permit, no matter what sex you are; generally, being a non-felon without mental health issues or an accusation of spouse abuse.
        If you fit the legal requirements for a marriage license, you can get married, no matter what sex you are; generally, a blood-tested non-first-cousin of the opposite sex, both not currently married.
        .-= Foxfier´s last blog ..Answer A Fool By His Folly =-.

      2. @Foxfier, you’re missing the point. In order to be Constitutional, the requirements of a CC permit or a marriage license cannot discriminate on the basis of sex.

        They *can* discriminate on a number of things, for instance you have to be a certain age to get a CC or a marriage license. But one of the requirements that you can never have for a CC license is sex. You simply cannot have a law saying, for example, men can’t have a CC permit, it is discriminatory and unconstitutional. The same applies to marriage.

        You say: “If you fit the legal requirements for a marriage license, you can get married, NO MATTER WHAT SEX YOU ARE you are; generally, a blood-tested non-first-cousin of the OPPOSITE SEX, both not currently married.”

        I’m sorry to say, Foxfier, but your argument is logically unsound. Requiring that a marriage be between two persons of different sexes is discriminatory on the basis of sex, hence unconstitutional. To go with our analogy about the CC, this is like saying you can get a permit no matter what sex you are as long as you are not a man. You cant just add “no matter what sex you are” to the beginning of the list of requirements, only to have it taken away by a requirement that the party be of a certain sex, this is oxymoronic.
        .-= Guy Incognito´s last blog ..Breaking the Commandments =-.

      3. @Guy Incognito,

        But one of the requirements that you can never have for a CC license is sex.

        As I demonstrated, there is no rule that one must be a man to be married. The rule is that one must marry the opposite sex, no matter what sex you are; you have failed to show that this discriminates against men or women.
        .-= Foxfier´s last blog ..Answer A Fool By His Folly =-.

    2. @Foxfier, forgive my unfamiliarity with responding to this type of blog format. I posted a response pertinent to your initial post below, if you have any interest.

      1. @Graham Gillette,

        It’s an odd format, even among blogs.

        I’m packing up the house and don’t have time to do a very good response, but what your response misses is the reason marriage is involved in the state: children. It also ignores that anyone can be married religiously if they can find a sect to do a ceremony.

        Also, your argument ignores powers of attorney, which allow another to act as the person granting the power. It’s not unusual for a military member to let several people have a power of attorney (although they are advised to limit them, by duration if nothing else– one for each parent, an additional one for their spouse, and sometimes for a sibling or adult child) which means that a legal contract that is even higher than marriage can be held by multiple people, thus a less binding contract could theoretically be held by multiple people unless disallowed by law.
        .-= Foxfier´s last blog ..Answer A Fool By His Folly =-.

      2. @Foxfier, The reason many people get married has nothing to do with children. I have an 85 year old friend who got married last year. She and her partner have no plans to have children. She told me she married because she wanted to share her life with her partner and marriage provides them a single, binding contract that is recognized by government and others in society like health care providers. Marriage allows them to make decisions together and is an accepted legal tool that provides the spouse preeminent authority should the other become incapacitated or pass away. My friend wanted to make her friend her next of kin. Marriage is the only tool that accomplishes what she wanted in one document. This has nothing to do with children and it is conceivable that it may have nothing to do with sex.

        Powers of attorney are legal tools many choose to use and, as you point out, powers of attorney can allow for multiple people to be given such power. This tool is precisely why the state would not have to recognize marriage to multiple partners. Marriage is a legal contract enforceable only between two people. It grants multiple rights unique to this particular contract because it is limited to two people. It fails to be marriage if it involves more than two.

        More important, you are using a slippery slope argument to muddy the waters. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that sexual plumbing cannot be a determining factor in marriage. They upheld marriage as an institution made of two people, but said limiting it to couples of the opposite sex was discriminatory. Picking one trait, sex, as a determining factor to marriage is no different than picking another, skin color, and using that as a limiting factor. Same sex marriage as a slippery slope to multiple partners is a smoke screen. Let’s focus on this issue, the right for each of us to choose one person as our next of kin.

      3. @Graham Gillette,

        The reason many people get married has nothing to do with children.

        Irrelevant.

        Marriage is a legal contract enforceable only between two people.

        Of opposite sexes.

        More important, you are using a slippery slope argument to muddy the waters.

        You are using mis definition, consistently, to falsely support your preferred view.
        .-= Foxfier´s last blog ..Answer A Fool By His Folly =-.

  3. There is less scientific evidence to show homosexuality is, as you say, a choice than there is pointing to genetics, but that has nothing to with the issue. Let’s see if we can agree on this. We are all created equal. No single trait (color, sex, heritage, etc.), or choice we make (religion, poltical belief, etc.) can strip of us that equality. Agreed?

    Assuming you do agree, let me take this one more step. The state establishes laws to ensure its people live freely and to provide them with certain protections of their rights. Marriage is a legal contract under the eyes of the state. As Kansas Bob rightly points out, this is different than the religious context of marriage. The legal contract of marriage provides two people the ability to select the other person as their partner in all of life’s decisions. A spouse plays the dominant role in decision making and matters involving his or her spouse. A marriage contract is recognized by the courts as paramount to all others and in doing so places the spouse above all others in establishing legal decisions in familial relationships. This is why it does not extend to multiple partners, Foxfier. A person can only name one person in a marriage partnership, because only one can serve in that utmost of contractual roles at a time.

    Let me end with this. This is about choice, Shane, but not a choice with which you seem to be concerned, sex. The choice is that of selecting a life partner, a next of kin, a legally recognized spouse. The legal contract of marriage as defined by the state cannot be dictated by the type of human plumbing with which a person is equipped. For the state can no more stipulate that a legal contract is only valid if one partner is a man and the other a woman any more than it can stipulate that the contract is valid only if the parties are of the same race. Note: sex and race are but two human traits and neither has anything to with whom one has sex. They are but two gifts with which we are endowed at birth, and no one of these can be used to create a special group in a land where we are all created equal. It has nothing to do with the act of having sexsex, chosen or genetically dictated.

    The choice of a partner can only be made by those entering the marriage contract. Any stipulation of the law that grants the ability to marry only to one group (one man and one woman) violates the constitutional tenet of equality by creating special treatment of that group. The special treatment is being sought by you, Shane. You seem to want to dictate that only those who you deem worthy can marry and that is just flat out unfair and flies in the face of freedom and individual rights.

  4. Shane, you are getting hammered on this, I see. I’ve heard for years that homosexual marriage should be allowed because even some animals practice homosexual behavior, so it must be okay. Well, grizzlies and chimps are known to eat their young, but I don’t hear anyone advocating that this makes it normal, or proper, behavior–especially for human beings. As to the right of marriage, some of the comments mention that couples can find many religious groups that would allow homosexual marriage, so why the big debate there?
    You are correct about homosexuality being a choice. We do not hear much about it anymore because it has become so politically and culturally incorrect to hold that view. An article on the BBC News web expresses what has been going on in the West concerning treatment of homosexuals wanting to leave that lifestyle. The article reads in part:
    “In America some psychiatrists have had their licences withdrawn for carrying out this therapy.
    We asked the Royal College of Psychiatrists for their view. They aid ‘homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder’ and people have ‘the right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging’.”
    “Patrick Strudwick wants the medical governing body, the GMC, to take action against Dr Miller.”
    ” ‘I’m actually the first person in British history to try and get a doctor struck off for treating homosexuality,’ he said.” ‘If Dr Miller is struck off, which I hope he is, this is a test case and will serve as a warning to other psychiatrists and mental health professionals attempting to do this.'”
    I’m sure some of your readers will agree with the Royal College of Psychiatrists. I, however, find it a blatant case of rejecting the truth in favor of being culturally correct and avoiding the wrath of the homosexual community. You might call it heterophobia–no one wants to appear pro-straight.
    Should we Iowans get to vote on the issue of homosexual marriage? In the end, it probably wouldn’t make any difference and cost the state and heterosexual groups a fortune. However, we would at least get to see what the people of Iowa really think about a policy that our governor wants to keep off his desk. I would think that the homosexual couples in our state would be angry about his unwillingness to come out and openly support them.

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