Go Iowa!

April 5, 2009 at 1:23 am Leave a comment

Iowa, part of America’s heartland in the Midwest (think agriculture and industry, although not, thankfully, the bible belt),  has just become the 3rd/4th US state to allow same-sex marriage. That’s right, the M word and all its attending benefits and baggage.

On April 3 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously held that the:

state statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. The decision strikes the language from Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman. It further directs that the remaining statutory language be interpreted and applied in a manner allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil marriage.

It was almost too easy for the Court to demolish the County’s puny reasons for the government’s stand:

The objectives asserted by the County were (1) tradition, (2) promoting the optimal environment for children, (3) promoting procreation, (4) promoting stability in opposite-sex relationships, and (5) preservation of state resources.

The last is laughable if you ask me.  Anyway, the Court held these grounds were both under and over-inclusive of certain classes of peoples and were, therefore, unprovable as improving or advancing government objectives.(Read the judgment to see how easily the Court steamrolled over County’s arguments, and also to see how flimsy such arguments are. Other states, take note.)

I was wary to read about appropriate levels of court scrutiny, statutory classification and government objectives – as if this wasn’t about people’s lives! – technicalities to be surmounted before court would look at the substance of an appeal.

My favourite bit is where Cady J states:

the statute, declares, ‘Marriage is a civil contract’ and then regulates that civil contract . . . . Thus, in pursuing our task in this case, we proceed as civil judges, far removed from the theological debate of religious clerics, and focus only on the concept of civil marriage and the state licensing system that identifies a limited class of persons entitled to secular rights and benefits associated with marriage.

That’s right, people. Civilised marriage is a contract. Get with it already. The Court did not interfere with religious beliefs as they were only concerned with civil rights. Separation of the church and state and all that. Finally.

My thanks to Prof. Ruthann Robson for the tip and also her summary of the judgment.

PDF of the full decision in Varnum v Brien is here.

P/s – I am particularly pleased that the Court used the term “gay and lesbian people” throughout, with the odd “gays and lesbians” in there. I much prefer the term “gay and lesbian people” rather than the encompassing “gays” in current new usage, because I think the former is grammatically correct and the latter can be misleading (men or men and women?) Besides,why should we defer to the male term, again?

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Entry filed under: Champions, Equity, Legal. Tags: , .

Graphic novel read: (Marvel’s) 1602 by Neil Gaiman Book read: Landing by Emma Donoghue

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Evecho’s newsy bits

News, updates and links from the lesbian and publishing ‘verse that interest me, my current projects, keeping up with authors and sharing musings on middle-class life, gourmet adventures and comparisons between East/West perspectives. My opinions will likely be linearly logical and gayly bent, as they tend to be.