The Ruling

I’ve been in Des Moines all morning, tracking developments and pounding out a Sunday column on deadline. Maybe be you caught my on-the-scene tweets as the ruling was announced.

My late take? I’m not sure what I can add to the avalanche of reaction to this landmark ruling, 7-0 for striking down the state’s ban on gay marriages. Obviously, since I’ve written numerous times about my support for legal gay marriage, I was pleased with the ruling and proud of how it fits into Iowa’s civil rights legacy.

I’ve seen a lot of scenes this morning that underscore the very different impacts of this ruling.

I saw a hopeful 8 a.m. prayer vigil organized by gay marriage opponents turn into a wake once the ruling was released. The court’s rejection of their arguments for sustaining the ban was stunningly complete. Iowa Family Policy Center leader Chuck Hurley and others then walked to the Statehouse, where they hope to win the next round by convincing lawmakers to put a constitutional ban on the ballot.

“Courts do not determine law,” said former state lawmaker Danny Carroll of Grinnell.  “The people determine law.”

At the other end of downtown, I saw six couples who filed the lawsuit ending the ban as they were told of the court’s ruling. There was joy and hugs and relief.

It reminded me of how people look after they take the US citizenship oath. And in a way, they did finally become full-fledged Iowans.

“I’d like to introduce you to my fiance'” said Kate Varnum of Cedar Rapids, along with her partner Trish Varnum. “I never thought I’d be able to say that.”

“We’re elated, so proud,” said Dawn Barbouroske of Iowa City, who stood with Jennifer Barbouroske and the couple’s two children.

About the only folks without much interesting to say are the state’s Democratic political leaders. They’ve issued fence-sitting statements trying to avoid taking a stand either way.

Here’s Gov. Chet Culver’s take:

“The decision released this morning by Supreme Court addresses a complicated and emotional issue, one on which Iowans have strong views and opinions on both sides. The next responsible step is to thoroughly review this decision, which I am doing with my legal counsel and the Attorney General, before reacting to what it means for Iowa.”

Iowans have strong views, well, except for the governor.

My Sunday column looks ahead, to whether this ruling has staying power. Regardless, this is an extraordinary day in the state’s history and will have a hefty impact, both here and elsewhere.

I’ll post the column here Saturday.



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5 responses to “The Ruling

  1. CHRIS L

    I am an ordained minister, and I am impressed with Iowas decision, as it reflects the intamacy of a loving commitment does not need to banned by any government. Those who are against the marriages have a right to express their opinions, but I believe God sees each of us as his beloved children, and I am happy to bless any union that recognizes the sanctity of love and respect for their partner. Your readers are free to contact me at anytime they would like to dedicate their lives to each other and God through marriage.

  2. Iowa Catholic Conference – Joint Statement from Iowa Bishops:

    Statement on an
    Iowa Constitutional Amendment regarding Marriage|blank.asp&area_2=pages/ICC%20Web%20Site/Statements/Marriage%20Amendment%202009

  3. Iowa Cynic

    Chet had strong feelings a couple months ago, back when he thought it wouldn’t matter what he said:

    “Culver, speaking after he taped “Iowa Press,” said he doesn’t want to take action before the Supreme Court rules. However, if the court upholds a lower court ruling in favor of gay marriage, he said the Legislature can, and should, respond quickly.

    “We’ll do whatever it takes to protect marriage between a man and a woman,” Culver said.””

    This and the disaster of a response to the floods… I wonder if he’ll get primaried?

  4. Charles Reader

    I agree that at first blush, this does seem like the right thing, but I think your comparison to becoming a citizen is a bit off track. This ruling will provide dramatic cultural changes in adoption policies, public education and non-profit designations in Cedar Rapids and throughout the state.

    This decision has so many implications that will likely follow that the media is not yet addressing.

    First, in Massachusetts, the largest private adoption agency, Catholic Charities, has had to quit providing adoption services because of their similar ruling on marriage. CC is also Iowa’s largest adoption agency. They will likely be forced to cease these services because of this law and its conflict with their church beliefs and now discrimination laws.

    Also in Massachusetts, there have been legal cases where parents of elementary school children have challenged school districts that now read books to young children about gay couples. Public schools now include gay sex as part of their sex education there. All soon to follow in Iowa. You might support this, but I don’t think most folks know this kind of thing is coming soon to CR schools and those across Iowa.

    Down the road for CR and Iowa – the tax-exempt status of churches and private schools will likely be challenged soon in courts, as homosexuality and “sexual orientation” increasingly are placed alongside race in anti-discrimination laws.

    There is no question that with same-sex marriage legal in Iowa, that churches eventually will have their tax-exempt status threatened — no question whatsoever. If churches today discriminate against race, they would not be able to have tax-exempt status today. If churches discriminate on the basis of same-sex marriage — now legal, and regardless of the Iowa Supreme Court allowing exemption — same-sex marriage becomes the equivalent of race, and churches would not be able to have tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage, if cases are brought before the courts.

    So, I agree that on the face of things, this is a good day for Iowa, but the aftermath, as Massachusetts and other states have experienced is really where the massive legal and cultural changes lie.

    As a fan of your column, I’m interested in more views coming on these other issues that same sex marriage will quickly bring into play.

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