Friday, April 03, 2009

Great Day in Iowa!

I have never been so proud an Iowan as I was today, when I learned early this morning that the State Supreme Court had ruled (unanimously!) as unconstitutional a 1998 ban on marriages other than between "one man and one woman." I knew this was coming up on a decision sometime soon, but there were no signals that it would arrive this quickly. I'm still stunned that it really happened, but since it's been all over the media today, I have to believe it ... and just smile in astonishment. This is something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime.

What follows is some local coverage of this historic decision that must have wingnut heads exploding across the state, indeed the nation, today.... For years, I've tried to convince "coasters" and others who know little about the state that we're a lot more than the hillbilly rednecks cast adrift in the infinite midwestern 'Hinterlands' that the vile $hrub called us back in 2004, as he referred to us on a campaign stop. Maybe this will help persuade others who have never been here that Iowa really isn't the place they've created in their heads ... at least I hope so!

Here's the scoop from the Des Moines Register:

Basic fairness and constitutional equal protection were the linchpins of Friday’s historic Iowa Supreme Court ruling that overturned a 10-year-old ban on same-sex marriage and puts Iowa squarely in the center of the nation’s debate over gay rights.

The unanimous, 69-page decision maintains a church’s right to decide who can be married under its roof, but it runs counter to the expressed opinion of a majority of Iowans who believe marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman.

The landmark ruling is guaranteed to send shock waves through politics in Iowa and beyond. With no appeal as an option, opponents say their only hope to overturn Friday’s decision is an almost-certain bid to amend the state constitution. But that path, which would eventually require a public vote, would not yield results until 2012 at the earliest.

Now, this updated excerpt has changed from the more objective coverage this morning, to more conservative tonight, but do read the entire piece to get the full detail on the ruling. Still, the end result is the same ... for the moment, we have marriage equality here in Iowa. And no, wingnuts can't do a "Proposition 8" type reversal on us here because Iowa law would require this ruling to be subject to a constitutional amendment. Under the best of circumstances, that would take at least 2-3 years to get on the ballot. Procedure requires introduction and passage in both the House and Senate in two consecutive sessions before it could be put before voters on the ballot. And that's unlikely to happen any time soon, because Iowa currently has a Democratic Governor and substantial Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate. (Our State Senator Matt McCoy is the only openly gay Senator in the Legislature.) Speaking of the Legislature, after the flower pause, I've quoted in its entirety the joint statement issued by our House and Senate Majority Leaders ....

Press Release of Joint Statement from Iowa Senate and House Majority leaders:
News Release
For Immediate Release: April 3, 2009
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal
House Speaker Pat Murphy

Iowa continues to be a leader in guaranteeing civil rights

This is a joint statement from Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy on today's Supreme Court decision:

"Thanks to today's decision, Iowa continues to be a leader in guaranteeing all of our citizens' equal rights.

"The court has ruled today that when two Iowans promise to share their lives together, state law will respect that commitment, regardless of whether the couple is gay or straight.

"When all is said and done, we believe the only lasting question about today's events will be why it took us so long. It is a tough question to answer because treating everyone fairly is really a matter of Iowa common sense and Iowa common decency.

"Today, the Iowa Supreme Court has reaffirmed those Iowa values by ruling that gay and lesbian Iowans have all the same rights and responsibilities of citizenship as any other Iowan.

"Iowa has always been a leader in the area of civil rights.

"In 1839, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected slavery in a decision that found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the Civil War decided the issue.

"In 1868, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated "separate but equal" schools had no place in Iowa, 85 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.

"In 1873, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against racial discrimination in public accommodations, 91 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.

"In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law.

"In the case of recognizing loving relationships between two adults, the Iowa Supreme Court is once again taking a leadership position on civil rights.

"Today, we congratulate the thousands of Iowans who now can express their love for each other and have it recognized by our laws."
I haven't yet read the decision myself, but if you're interested, you can read the PDF here. I have to admit that it hasn't fully sunk in yet for me, but today sure felt good, and confirmed why, after many years of wandering away from my home state, I'm glad I decided to come back from exile! Interesting times ahead here, I think ....

Hanna and I had a little talk early this evening about how her two daddies were "almost" legal now --and by coincidence today, Hanna is "legal" too because we just received her official dog license-- and though she looks pensive here, I think she was taking it all in and is just fine with the status quo in this household. After all, dogs are notoriously non-judgmental creatures, and as long as it doesn't negatively affect their lives, they don't express objections. Too bad human beings aren't as open-minded all the time. Again, dogs have a lot to teach us.....

By the way, the flowers are some Alstromerias (one of my very favorites) that I bought recently to have in the house, just because I wanted some fresh blooms around inside and I fell in love with the colors ... I had to take advantage of the late afternoon sun to get a few shots to share.

I'll return to Crocus blogging very soon! I got some very nice shots today, in advance of a weekend predicted to include lots of rain, sleet and accumulations of snow on Sunday! I'll keep you posted on what actually happens, but at this point it looks like pretty much of a sure thing. Oh well, into every life a few drops of rain must fall, eh?

20 comments:

CONEFLOWER said...

Good Morning!! And huge congratulations! I am so happy for all three of you and for all of Iowa! Every time I hear about one of these miracles I nearly burst with pride at how some pockets of decency still remain and that the right-wing wing-nuts are not prevailing everywhere. Maybe Obama winning Iowa set a really good precedent. Now if only all the other wing-nut states would follow suit. It seems so obvious...

Again, I am thrilled for you and for all of the other states as well. Iowa is setting an excellent example.

FARfetched said...

w()()+!!!!1!11!!!

OTOH, let's hope that it doesn't take the country 60-90 years to catch up to Iowa AGAIN.

Beth said...

IVG - Congratulations! Not sure North Dakota would be that progressive. Hanna is a big sweetie. I love dogs ...

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Coneflower,
We're still having a time believing this actually happened, but so far, the world hasn't ended here yet! lol

I used to have a dimmer view of the state when I was growing up, but after having spent plenty of time away in other states and abroad, I came back to understand what a great place it is after all. I'm so proud that saner voices prevailed unanimously yesterday! It does help ramp up the hope a bit that the tide indeed is changing in the country.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FAR,
I agree with your comment ... let's hope we're just one of the first dominoes to fall and get the rest of the country on board!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Beth,
Thanks for the kind sentiments! I know how you feel about ND not being progressive, but things do change over time ... though in the land of Angie Dickinson, I'm not sure how long that may take. :-)

Hanna is a real sweetie, yes, not very big in stature but she's got a huge heart and oodles of love to share. We were soooo fortunate to discover her and have her come live with us!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Crack open the champagne! Who'd have thought Iowa would be so progressive. (Kudos to your Supreme Court, btw.) I truly believe dogs have purer souls. Remember, dog is God spelled backward!

Gail said...

I have to say when I heard the news I was shocked~~ in Iowa! Way to go Iowa Supreme Court! Then today I saw that you have had a bit of snow, we were actually watching the weather channel...It's 65 degrees and we are under a tornado watch tonight with a chance of snow in the next two days. What the heck! gail

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi MMD,
Actually we meant to crack a bottle today and have Mimosas, but it kind of slipped our mind ... but soon! Actually I had faith that it would happen eventually here (Iowa has changed a lot since I was a kid), but was really surprised how quickly it happened!

I agree, dogs have purer souls ... there is no such thing as guile for a dog. They're terrible liars, so they don't (or only rarely) try!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Gail,
I think a lot of people were shocked right along with you (ourselves included!) One of those "pinch me, I can't believe it's true" kind of moments ...

Yep, we had snow all day and part of this evening, very light with little accumulation but a lot of wind as well. At least it wasn't the 3-5 inches they originally predicted!

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Hannah looks so happy and settled in.

Now the fight begins for a constitutional amendment but at least not this session.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi IGW,
Oh, Hanna is settled in for sure! If she had her way, she'd be giving the orders around here, lol.

Yes, I'm sure some will start making noise about amending the constitution, but from what I've read it's not easy to do (and it shouldn't!) and it would take at least several years before it could get on the ballot. We just have to keep our Dem majorities in the Legislature!

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