What It Means

Iowa Supreme Court Clears the Way for Gay Marriage

bildeBREAKING– In a unanimous decision, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled the state law which forbids gay marriage in Iowa is unconstitutional. Six gay couples filed a lawsuit in 2005, arguing a state law which banned same-sex marriage was discriminatory. This morning at 8:30, the court issued its ruling on the case, making Iowa the first state in the Midwest and the fourth nationwide to offer marriage equality for gays and lesbians.

The Decision

According to a summary briefing released by the Court communications officer:

“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.”

Due to the many requests, Queerty is making available the full decision. You can download the PDF here.

The court made its ruling based on the equal protection clause of the state constitution and framed today’s decision as part of Iowa’s long history of ensuring equal rights, “striking blows to slavery and segregation, and recognizing women’s rights”. The Court made the case that “strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion” were not enough a reason to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry.

Furthermore, the Court rejected the Polk County’s attorney’s argument that gays and lesbians didn’t deserve equal protection because they were not “similarly situated”– that is, comparable to straight couples. In their decision, the Court wrote, “No two people or groups of people are the same in every way, and nearly every equal protection claim could be run aground [under] a threshold analysis” that requires the two groups “be a mirror image of one another.”

The court also rejected the idea that marriage must be preserved for tradition alone writing:

“When a certain tradition is used as both the governmental objective and the classification to further that objective, the equal protection analysis is transformed into the circular question of whether the classification accomplishes the governmental objective, which objective is to maintain the classification.”

To top it all off, the Court went out of its way to reject many of the arguments usually levied at gay marriage: That gay marriage harms children, that marriage is for procreation, that gay marriage somehow destabilized heterosexual marriage and that gay marriage infringes on religious freedom.

What It Means

4416-iowajudicial1 The most immediate impact is that starting three weeks from now, on April 24th, gays and lesbians in Iowa will be able to get married, but the decision is likely to reverberate across the political spectrum in the coming days. Iowa’s status as a bellwether for the nation makes today’s decision a massive blow to the social conservative movement, which can not dismiss Iowa as a liberal coastal bastion.

The nature of the decision is likely to reignite the marriage debate nationally; the justices voiced their opinion in the stark tone of equal rights and though we’ve only been staring at the decision for a few minutes, it’s by far, the most full-throated argument for gay marriage penned by any court nationwide. It will be a landmark ruling, not just in Iowa, but across the nation.

Any attempt by the state legislature to create a constitutional ban on gay marriage will take some time. With Iowa’s legislative session nearly at its end and constitutional amendments requiring a approval by two consecutive legislative sessions before coming up for a vote, it’ll be 2012 at least before the state legislature could take up the issue.

In practical terms, this delay is critical as it allows Iowans to adjust to the ruling. In California, there was less than six months from when the Supreme Court ruled to allow gay marriage to the decision by a slim majority of voters to ban marriage equality.


Gay MarriageIowa Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) via statement:

“The decision made by the Iowa Supreme Court today to allow gay marriage in Iowa is disappointing on many levels. I believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman and I am confident the majority of Iowans want traditional marriage to be legally recognized in this state. Though the court has made their decision, I believe every Iowan should have a voice on this matter and that is why the Iowa Legislature should immediately act to pass a Constitutional Amendment that protects traditional marriage, keeps it as a sacred bond only between one man and one woman and gives every Iowan a chance to have their say through a vote of the people.”

Democratic Sen. Matt McCoy of Des Moines, who is openly gay:

“I’m off the wall. I’m very pleased to be an Iowan.”

Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal, which argued the case:

“What a thrilling day! The Iowa Supreme Court ruled this morning that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in Iowa. This historic decision fulfills the Iowa Constitution’s promises of liberty and equality. We are so proud of the courageous plaintiffs and their families who stood up for love, dignity and equal treatment under the law.”

Alexander Robinson, Executive Director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition:

“Iowa has a strong tradition of protecting individual freedom and civil rights.  We are not at all surprised that the State which launched President Obama’s election campaign has joined the ranks of states that recognize the fundamental dignity of the lives of lesbian and gay Americans.”

The decision is the number one topic on Twitter. You can read the latest updated here.

At the Des Moines Register, readers are voraciously commenting on the decision, with some writing things like “Sick, Sick, Sick”, but others responding more thoughtfully:

“I am 20 years old and straight, but have many gay friends. I have watch my friends get beaten up only because they were gay, at just 16 years old I drove a friend to the hospital with broken ribs because a 28 year old man decided he didn’t like the fact he was gay. Parents have disowned and even killed their children when they find out they are gay. I even met a girl whos’ [sic] uncle raped her thinking that it would maker her straight when I did volunteer work for a shelter one summer. There are so many other horror stories that these people have had to deal with.

So it seems to me that they are not the monsters in this situation and they deserve every right they have coming to them. They are still humans and they deserve to be treated as such. It is crazy for me to think that we will let murderers, drugdealers [sic], and psychopathes [sic] to get married but worry about homosexuals. I am proud that we are alowing [sic] these people in love to get married, I hope they have tuns of babies too.”

Stay with Queerty throughout the day for more on this landmark decision.

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  • Anthony

    That is really good news. But if California passed a constitutional amendment declaring marriage a union between a man and a woman don’t you think Iowa would do the same?

  • audiored

    Has never been so proud of his home state!

  • boarderthom

    Economic issues matter and marriage is an economic issue. Studies show that married people are slightly healthier (less costs) and wealthier (pay more taxes) than their single counterparts and this is true for gay people as well.
    Therefore, it is in America’s best economic interest to grant marriage equality.

  • Chitown Kev


    Iowa can, but it has to be approved by the legislature twice before it ever hits the ballot in Iowa. The earliest Iowa can ban SSM is 2012.

  • Sceth

    Unanimous! Good barrier against those who would want to single out judges.

  • John K.

    a referendum in Iowa would take much more time than California. Apparently, if the legislature moves on it in the next week or two, which they already said they wouldn’t, it could theoretically be on the ballot in 2010, but otherwise, the earliest would be 2012. It has to pass two consecutive sessions of the legislature before going to the ballot.

  • audiored

    @Anthony: It is very difficult to amend Iowa’s constitution. It is possible but it wouldn’t be up for a vote until 2012 at the very earliest. Already 55% of Iowan’s support civil unions. After 4 years of same sex marriage it is doubtful they would get enough votes to amend the constitution.

  • John K.

    Maybe it’s 2011 if they move right away on it, not sure. Either way, it’s a ways off.

  • Andrew Triska

    @Chitown Kev: Wowza. So gay Iowa couples will get at least three years to get married? This is great news. It means that if Iowa wants to ban gay marriage, they’ll be in the position of invalidating marriages that took place three years prior — which is probably going to be a bit less easy to stomach.

  • The Gay Numbers

    I hope this places pressure on CA’s S.Ct.

  • Chitown Kev

    @The Gay Numbers:
    And Illinois, I mean civil unions isn’t full marriage equality, but we do have a civil unions bill here pending.

  • John Culhane

    For those interested in a quick legal analysis of the decision, I will have one up on my blog by noon, Eastern time (about 1 1/2 hours): wordinedgewise.org

    A great day! Unanimous, to boot. When I’ve looked at the decision, I’ll be able to tell how influential it might be for other states.

  • John K.

    I wish I could read the opinion. The Cali site is still overflowing, and I can’t find it anywhere else. From what I read, it seems like the Court may have ruled that the ban did not even satisfy the rational basis test. I believe that is more like the Massachusetts ruling than the Cali one.

  • Alec

    Some interesting things from the decision:

    1. Reference to Obama:

    Second, Supreme Court jurisprudence establishes that a group’s
    current political powerlessness is not a prerequisite to enhanced judicial protection. “[I]f a group’s current political powerlessness [was] a prerequisite to a characteristic’s being considered a constitutionally suspect basis for differential treatment, it would be impossible to justify the numerous decisions that continue to treat sex, race, and religion as suspect classifications.” In re Marriage Cases, 183 P.3d at 443. Race continues to be a suspect classification, Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 326, 123 S. Ct. 2325, 2337, 156 L. Ed. 2d 304, 331 (2003), even though racial minorities enjoy growing political power.21

    Fn. 21: 21By one measure—occupation of public office—the political power of racial minorities is unbounded in this country today. This fact was on display January 20, 2009,
    when Barack H. Obama, the African-American son of a native Kenyan, was inaugurated as the forty-fourth President of the United States of America.

    2. The Court did not decide which level of scrutiny should apply to sexual orientation, but determined that it would at least be intermediate scrutiny, and that the classification failed that test (same test used for gender classifications).

    3. Considered and rejected civil unions as an alternative:

    A new distinction based on sexual orientation would be equally suspect and difficult to square with the fundamental principles of equal protection embodied in our constitution. This record, our independent research, and the appropriate equal protection analysis do not suggest the existence of a justification for such a legislative classification that substantially furthers any governmental objective. Consequently, the language in Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman must be stricken from the statute, and the remaining statutory language must be interpreted and applied in a manner allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil marriage.

    Good day for Iowa!

  • Jesse Archer

    Corn-fed, bible-belt, all-americana frickin’ Iowa? AWESOME!

  • Chitown Kev

    @Jesse Archer:

    Not that surprising. Iowa has a deep progressive tradition too.

  • Chitown Kev


    That’s an interesting reference to Obama. Of course. they know that 2012 is on the horizon to and Obama can’t duck the issue as he was able to do to a large extent in California.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Alec: @Alec: Although not as rigorous as strict scrutiny, the intermediate standard places the burden on the state to prove that law is important enough to discriminate. It’s a difficult standard to meet. Not impossible, but difficult. The problem with the right is that so many of their arguments over gay rights are such bullshit on the surface that it’s not a surprise they won’t even with stand intermediate review.

  • Alec

    @The Gay Numbers: Yeah I practice law. I don’t think this is the first time intermediate scrutiny has been applied in a sexual orientation case (I believe the HI Supreme Court did the same in 1996 or 1997), but it is unusual. So far most of the cases have been strict scrutiny (CA and CT) or rational basis (MA, WA, MY, NY), regardless of the outcome.

  • Japhy Grant

    @Alec: We put the full decision on our servers. See link in article.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Alec: The homophobes are looking at probably from what I am reading around the political blogs 2013 or 2014 for an amendment, and that’s assuming all the stars allign in their favor (ie, the make up of the Iowa legislature does not appear to be favorable to an amendment).

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Alec: MA was rational basis? That’s weird. Do they apply it differently than other states?

  • The Gay Numbers

    Re: Legislature from Pams House of Blend


    For Immediate Release: April 3, 2008
    Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal: 515-281-3901
    House Speaker Pat Murphy: 515-281-0817
    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.”

  • Wayne

    THANK YOU IOWA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We stand on the side of equality. We will prevail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Alec

    @The Gay Numbers: I don’t believe it is significantly different, but apparently less tolerant of underinclusive and overinclusive classifications. The fact that the state did not require fertility for heterosexual couples, for example, worked against the state. When compared to the NY, MD and WA decisions, I have to say that given what a rubber stamp rational basis review usually is those courts might have the better legal argument. You can read the MA decision here: http://fl1.findlaw.com/news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/conlaw/goodridge111803opn.pdf

  • Alec

    @The Gay Numbers: Hmmm….I don’t think that amendment will be coming down any time before 2014, judging by that statement.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Alec: a) I always hated rational basis as a standard. b) I don’t think there will be an amendment. Too far out, and the curve of history against it.

  • Paul

    I like how the justices included a long section on how civil marriage is entirely different from religious marriage and how courts cannot make religions do something they don’t want to do. I thought this paragraph was exquisite, largely because it provides cover for future courts who want to rule the same way but needed a good articulation for how they’re truly addressing only the civil side of marriage:

    “As a result, civil marriage must be judged under our constitutional standards of equal protection and not under religious doctrines or the religious views of individuals. This approach does not disrespect or denigrate the religious views of many Iowans who may strongly believe in marriage as a dual-gender union, but considers, as we must, only the constitutional rights of all people, as expressed by the promise of equal protection for all. We are not permitted to do less and would damage our constitution immeasurably by trying to do more.”

  • epluribusunum

    This just proves that we ARE on the right side of history.

    Good going Iowa!

  • Martha

    We can thank career librarian Marian Paroo for this victory of progressive intelligent decision.

    After all, in River City Iowa, Old Miser Madison left the library building to the town, but he left all the books to her…

    Chaucer, Rabelais, Balsac !!

  • John K.

    Thanks for the link Alec. I think I’m just having a problem with acrobat because none of the links I tried to PDFs are working. I’ll read it eventually, lol. And yes, I was returning to say that after reading some more articles with quotes from the opinion talking about the ban not advancing an important governmental interest, it seems the court applied intermediate scrutiny.

    The Gay Numbers: haha, interesting question about Massachusetts rational basis test. What they say about rational basis is that it is almost impossible for the state to lose when that test is applied. Most states that have applied rational basis to gay marriage bans upheld them. Massachusetts purported to apply rational basis, but in reality it applied what has become fairly widely known as “rational basis with bite.” It’s not intermediate scrutiny, but it’s not quite “any imaginable reason will do.” It usually happens when a court does not want to rule on issues that would decide whether heightened scrutiny should apply, but thinks the law should be struck down.

  • Cam

    And EVERY SINGLE ONE of the justices voted the same way……nice going Iowa, I have NO idea what there is to do up there, but I’m heading right over to your tourist website and planning a vacation there. You wanna be cool to me, then you get my vacation dollars.

  • eg

    As a resident of Iowa…there is a lot to do! People are friendly, outgoing, casinos, shopping, wineries, the bigger cities have great bars, restaurants…we welcome all! People are literally dancing in the streets here!!!!!

  • Brian

    This is so awesome! I can not wait to go to the rally tonight in Des Moines.
    Today I celebrate. Tomorrow I fight to keep my rights.

  • Bill Perdue

    What a kick in the ass for the bigots.

  • Craig


    IA doesn’t have referrendums, and a DMA can’t be passed until 2012 (it has to go through two sessions of congress), and IA is not CA, so no, this is here to stay.

  • John K.

    I’m finally reading the opinion. Footnote 7 is talking a little bit about rational basis with bite.

  • atdleft

    @The Gay Numbers: So do I. I don’t know what will happen, but I’m hopeful.

    @Anthony: November 2011 is the very earliest a constitutional marriage ban can be put to a popular vote in Iowa.


    That’s only if the legislature approves a vote twice in consecutive sessions. With Democrats controlling both houses presently, I doubt we’ll see anything before 2013 if ever.

  • Joan

    What’s the marriage law in Iowa? Can non-residents get hitched? I’m probably going to be on a road trip that way in May. Should I plan to make a stop?

  • Iowadad

    Yeaaa Iowa! I’m very proud of my state today and I can tell you we’re not going to let the nutters take this away. I’m a straight guy with a wife and two kids and I know full well this is good for my state. Anyone out there who can handle all kinds of weather, Come move here! A strong majority of Iowans under 30 already supported same sex marriage before this ruling. Help us build our kind and healthy community.

    I’m serious about this. Iowa has long struggled to keep our young, educated people in the state. An influx of professionals buying homes and settling here because they can enjoy the same legal benefits as my family would be dynamite for the state. It would completely cripple the nutter’s effort to push some Prop 8 kind of garbage here.

    That carpenter who thinks he hates the gays might feel very different when the first job he gets in a month is to remodel Steve and Jim’s kitchen. I’ve had it with the bigoted bs and I want my state to get healthier with this.

    We’re having a big party here in Iowa City this evening. We’re very happy and proud today. Peace.

  • Chitown Kev


  • Iowadad


    Joan, I’m pretty sure you can get married here. Of course, your state might not recognize it but bless you for coming here and getting hitched. And, congratulations.

    As an Iowan, one of the things I’m doing to diffuse the nutter’s efforts at backlash is to point out the economic boon to the state this could bring. We’re slashing our budget like most states and pointing out the money coming in with marriage tourism as well as new people settling here could be a very powerful tool in keeping the mushy middle from siding with the haters on this.

    If we can really make this permanent, it is definitely going to influence action in other states over time. Iowa going for Obama in our caucus had a huge influence because people said, “Even in Iowa?” This will have the same effect.

    Come here and celebrate this with us and we’ll celebrate with you. (Again, congratulations. I’m a sap about weddings.)

  • Johanna

    @Joan: Yes, non-residents can get married here. There is no residency requirement in Iowa for someone wishing to get a marriage license. And you should definitely stop. Des Moines, Iowa City, Burlington,and Cedar Rapids are definitely great places to visit, ESPECIALLY Iowa City – we’re probably the gay center of the midwest. It’s actually a more accepting environment for a gay person to live than in some place like Cali.

    As a straight woman who has been a supporter of gay rights, or should I say, HUMAN RIGHTS since I was old enough to understand what sexual identity was, I have never been more proud to be a citizen of Iowa. My belief has always been, and will always be that we are all human beings entitled to the same exact rights. Why should it matter who wants to marry whom, as long as its between two consenting adults of legal age?

    And looking back on our history, I’m even prouder. People seem to think that this is some sort of anaomoly, but Iowa truly is a progressive, free thinking hub in the midwest. Come visit, or hell, even move here! We just got ranked like 2nd nation wide as far as best states to live in… And we just got even better!

  • Bill Perdue

    This is going to make life a little more difficult for the Bigot in Chief in the White House. His wiggle room is shrinking all the time.

    People say that politics make strange bedfellows but there’s nothing strange about the way Obama is snuggling up the bigots on this question. He used to support same sex marriage but lost an election over it and got religion, aka bigotry. Everyone knows his history from revival meetings with ex-gay turncoats like Donnie McClurkin to blowing us out of the water last November with ‘gawd’s in the mix’.

    Obama is our open enemy and so are most Democrats in Congress. It’s time to break with them and build an independent, left, militant, massive LGBT action front to propel our equality agenda toward.

  • Johanna

    @Iowadad: You should head out to Studio, its drag show night anyway but there’s going to be a HUGE celebration going on there. As a young person here, this is just one more incentive for me to stay – which is just icing on the cake as after moving to IC, I’ve fallen irreversibly in love with it and planned on staying anyway! All of the people I’ve talked to today are so overwhelmingly proud to be an Iowan right now, myself included. It’s nice to hear that those from the “older” generations is standing by this ruling as well :D

  • Bill Perdue

    I just got a call from a couple of friends in Red Oak. They’re torn by this. They love the idea of living in sin and their neighbor’s christer noses in it, but they’ll trade that for tax breaks any day.

  • Iowadad

    @Johanna: Johanna, write to the Register and other papers about how you feel. I first came to Iowa in the 1980’s and I can tell you, getting young, educated people to settle here has been on people’s minds for a long time. I really think the economic perspective on this could really help tamp down the backlash from the wingnuts. Knowing it’s good for the Iowa economy at a time like this could really keep a lot of people who are on the fence about this from supporting any possible ammendments later on. It might just help them feel good about it too.

    Thanks for the invite to the Studio. We’re taking the kids to the celebration on the Pentacrest this evening but then it’s homebody time for this “older” guy who fell in love with Iowa a couple of decades ago.

  • Attmay

    @Bill Perdue: For once you are right on Obama being our enemy.

  • Alec

    @Bill Perdue: What election did Obama lose over the issue of same-sex marriage? Th house seat? I wasn’t aware that was a major issue in that race.

    President Obama is no leader on marriage equality, but I wouldn’t call him an “enemy” either. As we’ve seen from the Proposition 8 protests, the calls for an independent left-wing “militant, massive LGBT action front” are unlikely to take off. I think we’ll continue to follow the civil rights model, including Democratic presidencies (if only for the purpose of getting a fair minded judiciary) and leave the fantasy radicalism to the campus set.

  • michael

    Tears are in my eyes! I am so happy and grateful and I have never even been to Iowa! My spouse and I married in San Francisco last summer even though we live in Vancouver B.C. now. It was time to marry and we chose California because we wanted to be supportive and add to the numbers who would take advantage of the opportunity. When we went to the San Francisco courthouse to obtain our license it was one of the most moving experiences of our lives. Everyone should have had the opportunity to experience the joy that filled that space. Watching older gay and lesbian couples marry was the most moving thing I had ever seen. I knew that many of them had spent a lifetime waiting for something like this to happen. The staff at the department that issued the licenses were nothing but amazing. The happiness spilled over to everyone. What a beautiful time and an incredible piece of history to be a part of.

    Needless to say, when we heard that the citizens of California decided to ban gay marriage it was heart wrenching. Personally,
    I think that California’s laws make it to easy to change its constitution. I believe many voted out of a reactionary, emotional position and if the system was more like Iowa’s then more of its citizens would have had time to reflect and find the higher part of themselves before casting their ballots. The forces of evil were able to swoop in and take advantage of a short window of time and confuse and manipulate many that their rancid way of thinking was the right way. Evil is always cunning and baffling and the truth has nothing but itself to stand on. The truth does not play games.

    So thank you Iowa. Thank you to the justices that were able to see through the lies of those who would have it differently and stand up with what is right and true. And thank you Iowa for having a sane constitution that does not allow itself to be changed by the knee-jerk reactions of those who are unable to sit with the discomfort that often accompanies change. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

  • Geoff

    Finally…..some ‘Justices’ live up to their name. Now what about California?

  • michael



    I know, its my second post on this thread but I am so happy I cannot contain it!

  • GayIsTheWay

    Celebrate! What a great decision.

  • Bill Perdue

    @Alec: What election did Obama lose over the issue of same-sex marriage? 1996 – Same sex marriage is always a contentious issue because of right wing Republicans and right centrist Democrats who support it and oppose us. 1996 was the year DOMA passed, and just before the election. It was all over the news in that election and threes no way it couldn’t have had an effect. Here’s the queerty report.


    but I wouldn’t call him an “enemy” either. Sabotaging us in California, politically sleeping with bigots and ignoring and fatally postponing our agenda are the actions of a bigot and an enemy. When Bush did some of the same things I’ll bet you had no problem calling him an enemy.

    the calls for an independent left-wing “militant, massive LGBT action front” are unlikely to take off.. You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried. In fact they’ve been growing and spreading. Just a couple of weeks ago 100,000 marched in SF and there were good sized demos across California and national support actions.
    I think we’ll continue to follow the civil rights model, including Democratic presidencies (if only for the purpose of getting a fair minded judiciary) and leave the fantasy radicalism to the campus set. There is no civil rights model. As for Democratic presidencies Clinton was the reason we got the codification of military bigotry as DADT and he not only championed DOMA, forcing it through Congress, but he boasted about it on redneck christer radio stations to get reelected in 1996. Obama is a Clinton clone.

    Mass action is not only not a fantasy; it’s the usual way things get done in the biggest banana republic of the all, the USA, governed by and for the rich. Mass action kicked out the English and pushed the Confederates faces in the dirt. It got us women’s suffrage and built the union movement and ended the war in Vietnam.

    The fantasy is to think that wretched opportunists and hustlers, for sale to the highest bidder, which is a good description of all US presidents since Lincoln are the friend of anyone but the rich. As for the courts, I don’t know (and would like to find out) the political affiliations of the Iowa Supremes, but the federal Supremes who killed sodomy laws and the California and Massachusetts Supremes who granted same sex marriage were all Republicans. In addition Obama’s appointment as Solicitor General, Elena Kagan is a bigoted opponent of same sex marriage and likely to be his first nominee for the federal Supreme Court.

    The liberal theory of advancing by the courts is a fantasy. The courts good decisions have been based on a reaction to domestic political changes, often expressed as mass action movements and a desire not to look like country bumpkins on the international scene. That was one of their prime motives for the desegregation and sodomy law rulings.

  • Chitown Kev

    @Bill Perdue:

    Wrong election, Bill. Obama won the 96 state Senate race running on a platform where he supported SSM and opposed DOMA. he lost the 2000 Dem primary against Bobby Rush, in part, for that support. He was not able to galvanize support in the black community.

  • Bill Perdue

    @Chitown Kev: Thanks Kevin, I’ll make a note of it.

  • Alec

    @Bill Perdue: Then he should have lost that election. Instead, he won his state senate seat, from which he launced his federal senate bid. The only election he ever lost was for a house seat in 2000; to Bobby Rush, who is, as far as I know, a supporter of most gay rights measures.

    As far as enemy, Bush supported sodomy laws, DADT and opposed any relationship recognition for same-sex couples. To compare him to President Obama is intellectual dishonesty of the highest order.

    We’ll cross the Kagan bridge when there’s a vacancy on the Court, but this is what she said:

    Kagan says there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage, saying that such rights are a product of how the courts, citizens and elected officials interpret the Constitution. “By this measure, which is the best measure I know for determining whether a constitutional right exists, there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage,” she says.

    Remember, she’s speaking about the federal constitution and to how the judiciary, the legislature, and the public views the issue. That’s a nuanced statement if ever there was one.

    The liberal theory of advancing by the courts is a fantasy. The courts good decisions have been based on a reaction to domestic political changes, often expressed as mass action movements and a desire not to look like country bumpkins on the international scene. That was one of their prime motives for the desegregation and sodomy law rulings.

    Of te three states that currently recognize same-sex marriages, none were the product of a legislative change. Only a handful have relationship recognition without court order, and that may have never come about without the Vermont Supreme Court’s decision in 1999. Additionally, Brown v. Board of Education, Loving v. Virginia, and a host of other civil rights cases were decided after literally a century of back and forth between the state and federal judiciaries and state and federal legislatures.

  • Chitown Kev


    Well, Bobby Rush is a supporter of gay rights measures but his constieuents (other than the Hyde Park sliver) are NOT. At least not the one in the black community that did nasty whispering campaigns against him.

  • InExile

    Today is a good day for the LGBT community! Thank you Iowa for bringing us a little justice for a change. Lets hope the California Supreme Court takes notice to this decision and overturns Prop 8. Like I have said many times, nothing is going to change in our country without large scale protests! President Obama is not going to help us and neither is congress unless we help ourselves. When is the march on Washington for equality? When?

  • Bill Perdue

    @Chitown Kev: Thanks again.

  • Chitown Kev

    @Bill Perdue:
    Bill, esp. pay close attention to that 2000 story about the Bobby Rush race. That tells you everything you really need to know about why Obama took the turn that he did. That race got downright fugly.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @John K.: Yes, the US SCt used a similar standard or approach in the Colorado gay rights case in the 90s.

  • Bill Perdue


    Alec, fantasies like yours are very dangerous.

    All that does is move his betrayal up a few years. It’s still a betrayal.

    Kagan is a sidestep at best, not a step foward and further proof, if any was needed, that legislative or judicial change is a response to mass movements.

    The Republicans are just as likely to go our way as Democrats. As I said, it’s mass pressure that convinces them.

  • Bruno

    I hope this has some influence at least over the Vermont procedures, let alone the CA Supremes.

  • The Gay Numbers

    RE Obama

    I am of the “my them do it” school. Unlike the “politicians must be heroic” crowd or the “let’s circle the wagon” crowd, I follow the “you got to make them do it” crowd. This crowd focuses on those thing we want to get done. For example, here, this will not end at the state level. It will in the U.S. S.Ct. because the Southern states (just like with anti-misegenation laws) will never adopt pro gay marriage laws. Today was great news, but we have to realize that the final battle will be at the federal level. That means we need to be pushing for S.Ct. justices on the U.S. Ct. who are agreeable to expanding the equal protection clause to include gays. To obtain this, we do need younger justices who are liberal or moderate, but responsive to these arguments. That’s where we need to apply the pressure on Obama. We must makde him move in our direction.

  • Alec

    @Bill Perdue: I would urge you to take a long hard look at the fight over interracial marriage and desegregation, as well as the issue of Jewish emancipation and, for that matter, the LGBT movement in Europe. I do not believe that we need a militant “leftist” LGBT movement; in fact, can you point to that as a factor in the Netherlands, Canada, or Spain?

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Bruno: Agreed.

  • strumpetwindsock

    Congratulations Iowa and Vermont.


    The only reason on provinces in Canada changes so quickly is because they knew our old marriage laws were going to be struck down by the Supreme Court.

    As I’ve posted elsewhere, I don’t understand why your federal court has turned down challenges to DOMA. I also think they are shirking their responsibility by putting a human rights question on the backs of politicians, who like it or not, have to weigh their political futures as well as what is the legal and moral thing to do. Not much better than dictatorship of the majority, and not a great way to recognize human rights, IMO.

    As I said too… I wonder if they would be so gunshy if they had an anti-equality amendment on the books, as George Bush was proposing.

    But then I am not a lawyer, and I know your judicial system is different than ours not just technically, but in spirit.

  • strumpetwindsock

    @Bill Perdue:
    Bill I think I mentioned to you already that mass action alone did not win any of those struggles. The revolutionary war certainly was a populist uprising, but they got a great deal of help from the French monarchy, the Spanish and the Dutch.
    And although the Confederates support of slavery needed to be crushed, that wasn’t the reason for the war, and the south weren’t actually backed by big industry and the power brokers. The north had most of that power on their side.
    And Vietnam… cetainly the protest movement at home had a great effect, but I think the Vietnamese and the Chinese may have had something to do with it too. And there couldn’t have been too much galvanized opposition given Nixon’s landslide in ’72.

    But when I think of this victory my first thought is not how much it will piss off the religious bigots. I am overjoyed that government actually figured it out and made the right decisions, and more importantly that people are free to get married.

    This is a great day.

  • Mark

    My partner and I are leaving New Mexico because the Democratically controlled statehouse voted AGAINST a domestic partners bill!!! I wish Iowa had done this a little sooner so we could have considered moving there, but perhaps we’ll get married there enroute to our new home in New York. At any rate, THANK YOU Iowa!!!!!!!

  • Bill Perdue

    @Alec: I do not believe that we need a militant “leftist” LGBT movement; in fact, can you point to that as a factor in the Netherlands, Canada, or Spain?

    The old “I lost the argument about the US so I’ll switch to Europe trick”, hunh? Well, I’m game.

    In Spain same sex marriage (because lesbians, bisexuals and transfolks get married too) was passed in the teeth of heavy opposition by the Partido Socialista Obrero Español, or the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party. That is,pretty much by definition a militant leftist movement, only it’s in the form of a broad based party.

    Unfortunately in the US we have to deal with two right wing parties with only the most minor cosmetic, the Democrats and the Republicans. I suggest you take a long hard look at this comment:

    We have no political parties. We’ve never had much of them — I mean the Democrats, the Republicans. We have one party — we have the party of essentially corporate America. It has two right wings, one called Democratic, one called Republican”. Gore Vidal March 12th, 2003 on SBS Australia

  • Bill Perdue

    @strumpetwindsock: Another heartwarming episode of “As the Pedant Turns.”

    Next, the waterworks get turned on.


  • Ben

    @Anthony: Iowa’s constitution is much harder to amend.

  • strumpetwindsock

    @Bill Perdue:
    Well here the battle was driven by the courts… specifically based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which was passed 25 years ago by some fairly centrist federal and provincial governments.
    Of course we have LGBT rights movements, but they are not at all of the order you are talking about, and the bulk of the political movement on this issue came from the top down. Governments (again, centrist – ranging from the left to the right) knew they had to get out of the way of the law and adapt, because change was coming.

    I know it ain’t romantic, but nobody stormed the Bastille to make it happen here in Canada (but then the actual storimg of the Bastille wasn’t too romantic either).

    So again, I think these movements on the part of the states are fabulous and add weight and moral authority, and they show that things are changing…. but that change will not be secure until your federal govnerment engraves it in stone.

  • EchoMark

    A heartfelt congrats to my former neighbors to the East!

    Wish I was back in Omaha at The Max tonight to help celebrate, then, as per tradition, cross the river at 1AM to glorious Council Bluffs, IA to continue the revelry!

  • Forrest

    A great victory no doubt but if Cali taught us anything it’s that complacency is fatal. Our opponents are just as energized by their defeat as we are by victory. They will use this decision as a rallying cry and fundraising cash cow. 212 is not that far away. The fundamentalist Christian wing is powerful in Iowa and planning a counterattack. We need to have a ground game. We need to assume that this decision will have to be defended on the ballot. Not planning ahead will spell more disaster and heartbreak.

  • Alec

    @Bill Perdue: The “Socialist” Party of Spain is social democratic. You can quote Gore Vidal all you want, the argument that the differences between the two parties were “cosmetic” was eviscerated by the presidency of George Bush, right down to his reactionary tax cuts which will expire without being renewed. Courtesy of the evil mirror image of the Republicans, the Democratic Party.

    You can’t point to mass action for LGBT rights because that isn’t how it hs come about historically. Your attempt to credit the Republicans’ judicial appointees with the gains in Romer and Lawrence are ridiculous; Federalist Society members were wary of Justice Kennedy based on a decision he wrote on the miliary ban when he was sitting on the Ninth Circuit and Justice O’Connor joined the majority opinion in Bowers, which is one of the most homophobic decisions ever handed down. Moreover, you ignore Ginsburg and Breyer (presumably because that doesn’t fit the narrative) as well as the accidental appointment of Stevens and Souter, who I am sure would have been turned down had Nixon and Senior been aware of their views.

  • TANK

    Still, it’s Iowa… Good news.

  • tricky ricky

    this was an incredibly well thought out ruling. they took everything into account.

  • geoff

    Congrats Iowa!!!! All right Illinois, get on it.

  • atdleft

    @The Gay Numbers: Agreed. I’ll just add that I also wholeheartedly believe in changing the hearts and minds of our fellow voters, the ones that actually elect the pols. That’s why Courage Campaign is doing a statewide canvassing program throughout California, and hopefully One Iowa will follow suit. No matter what happens in court, we’ll always be in jeopardy if we don’t have majority support for our full civil rights.

    This is why I’m hopeful that we will sustain our gains in Iowa and see marriage equality return to California for good either this year (if the court properly acts) or next year (if we’re forced by the court to go back to the ballot).

  • Gabriel

    As a former resident of Iowa I couldn’t be happier. Iowa has always pleasantly surprised me.

  • Tak

    The need to continue to make our voices heard will never end but this is a landmark decision by a courageous court who cut through the arguments of the county and found them, well, illogical. That is a smack down!

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Alec: You are also overstating your case. While O’Connor was responsible for the crap decision that was Bowers v. Hardwick, she was also a major vote on overturning the case (as I remember) with the Lawrence decision. The fact is, however, she belongs to a different generation of moderate Republicans on these issues.

    Finally, I think you overstate your case by making Bill’s mistake. Namely deciding there is only one way, and only that way will achieve the ends we want. The rule is that there should be no rule. Whatever works will work. Part of our job is to pressure Obama as a politician to do the right thing. You are both going to extreme e positions that are ultimately trying to define the whole by discussing the part. In your case, you seem to be arguing activism is not crucial. This is untrue. But so is Bill’s position in overstating it’s importance.

    The purpose of activism at the federal level should be to push Obama to nominate people who are sympathetic to our position or at least open to it. We want to get him to unpack the Courts with Scalia type activist conservatives who want to rewrite Equal protection analysis. We want people who will apply the standards as it is meant to be applied. I believe if we get that- we will over turn the discriminatory de jure and de factor actions against gays. But first we got to have our eye on the ball. I believe neither of you properly understands where that ball is.

  • Bill Perdue

    @Alec: Social Democrats are socialists, not revolutionists but sill part of the left. Democrats are not part of the left. They’re right centrists by anyone’s definition. Don’t you have a law clerk to look this stuff up for you?

    Tax cuts for the rich were done by Democrats and Republicans. Carter deregulated S&Ls and Clinton deregulated everything else with the repeal of the depression era Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. Their deregulation, supported by Reagan and the Bushes plus most members of both parties in Congress are solely responsible for the current recession wannabe depression.

    Both support the war in South Asia. Both support and refuse to repeal DOMA and DADT. The ganged up to rape ENDA and scuttle the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill. Bush and Obama both supported the trillions wasted in giveaways and bailouts to the looter rich. Etc. Etc. Etc.

    The movers and shakers in the Democratic (sic) Party are not socialists, merely wretched liberals and the people who own that party are very right wing; pro-war, anti-ssm, bigoted, anti-worker and pro-business.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @atdleft: I believe in changing people’s minds about gays, but I do not think our rights should be beholden to the caprice of voters. Both are necessary components for different reasons. One is a matter of righs. One is a matter of stability. In the case of chaning minds, we create a more stable society, but in the case of rights the courts do have a historical role in this.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Bill Perdue: You both are engaged in hyperbole. I am going to now stay out of it, but I do want to point that out. It does not serve your argument well to overstate the idea that both parties are the same- if for no other reason than one is actively trying to harm you and the other is indifferent. The task with the former is to stop them. The task with the later is to push them to do what we want. That’s a distinction that your posts raraely understand. But, then you are a zealot. I see you posting the same things on multiple gay sites. If you were interested in interaction with a wide range of views, I might change my mind, but to be honest, I fully expect you to equate me to Alec although I disagree with Alec here too.

  • atdleft

    @The Gay Numbers: Oh, I certainly agree! I hate that our rights were stripped in California, and I hope the CA Supreme Court recognizes that minorities’ fundamental rights shouldn’t be up for a simple majority vote.

    However we must unfortunately recognize that in states like California with a radically easy initiative process, our rights are never 100% secure. If we lose in court, we have no option but to return to the ballot box to win our human rights. And even if we win in court (as I hope we will!), we must fight to ensure that the H8ers don’t succeed in limiting our marriage rights or attacking transgender rights or attacking the judges that support our rights.

    I’m glad that Iowa has a saner system that imposes checks and balances on the initiative process. But in states like California and Arizona that don’t, we must work hard in the coming months and years to build and sustain majority support for full LGBT civil rights simply so we can stop the radical right assaults on our community.

  • scott

    Awesome news!!!

    Slowly but gradually, we’re getting there.

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)


    Good for you! :)

  • strumpetwindsock

    @The Gay Numbers:
    Not sure if Alec was saying that, but I agree with you – we definitely need a healthy populist movement to keep the bastards on their toes. But you can’t build a medicare system with a can of spraypaint.

    @Bill Perdue
    Just like “democratic” parties, not all “social democratic” parties are cut from the same cloth, or live up to their name. Germany’s SPD, for example, are definitely a centrist party, albeit to the left of the CDU.
    And parties are all relative to their political environment. Canada’s current right wing government may emulate George Bush, but most of their actual policies are to the left of Barack Obama, mostly because Harper couldn’t get away with governing like an American here, And Obama couldn’t get away with governing like a Canadian down there.
    I agree with you about centrist parties (like your Democrats and Republicans) being two sides of the same coin in some ways. But the reality is actually a bit more complicated than that.

    @The Gay Numbers:
    Exactly. There are times when governments (including the judiciary) have to pull people into the future. But ultimately the people have to embody that change.

  • Forrest

    I don’t expect the Iowa decision to have any impact whastsoever on California. Regardless of whether a majority of CA Justices agree with gay marriage and the equality, they seem to believe that voters can abrogate equal protection in CA. And not harm gay people in doing so because marriage it’s just a “word” to them.

    I won’t stay up late waiting for a congratulatory statement from Obama. He thinks separate is perfectly fine for the gays to settle for. Pathetic coming from a mixed race American.

    Well, maybe Obama will come around. After he leaves political office just like the other “evolved” former leaders. How convenient.

  • Seadog

    @Bill Perdue: You are so right. Absent a massive movement on our part–money, marches, aggressive primary attacks on the Democratic establishment, money, assymetric PR attacks, powerful appeals to the ‘just’ amongst the middle, money and a deluge of noise on the Web, Op-Ed, letters, stories of injustice, money, etc., we face 20-30 years before we achieve parity. IOW, the rest of my limited life. Which sucks. How can I help? Waiting for a ‘new generation’ Republican (the party will emerge after 10 years as a fiscally conservative, socially liberal, completely reconstructed political force–and possibly *still* neo-conservative on foreign policy). Equality Now!

  • Bill Perdue

    @The Gay Numbers: “one is actively trying to harm you and the other is indifferent” Obama actively harmed us with ‘gawd’s in the mix.’ He’s actively harming civilians and GI’s in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. His gifts of trillions to the looter rich are making a depression more, not less, likely. He’s not al all neutral or indifferent. He and his party are the enemy just as much as the Republicans.

    What they fight over is not politics or principles, but the spoils of victory; power, influence and ‘campaign contributions’ and all the other shekels thrown their way for being good lap dogs.

    I don’t really equate you with Alec, he’s a straightforward right-winger. I see you as some one who likes to be in the middle, play Solomon and appear ‘evenhanded’. That’s as silly as the attempt to liken superstition and science. It doesn’t work anymore.

    The war and economic chaos are producing a profound polarization and a deep radicalization. Being in the middle as that progresses simply means that politically speaking you’re going to be the target of the left and the right.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @atdleft: Don’t know if I saw this here or else where but there is a move in CA to change the constitution to address some fo the manipulation that occurs with these sorts of intiatives in regards to both the budget and fundamental rights.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Bill Perdue: You are too stupid to even respond to properly. I am in the middle? Alec is a right winger? Okay. Got it. Like I said, if you are a zealot then everyone else seems like they are out of whack.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Bill Perdue: Follow up point: because you are a zealot you don’t realize that when I speak of compelling Obama to act or pushing politiicans to act- it is not a statement of where I stand on issues.

    It’s a statement put out there by great “rightwingers” like David Sirota and Glenn Greenwald. The thesis being politicians are politicians.

    In America, the history of this country has been that to win we must push them to do the right thing. If you looked at something beyond your own narrow reality, you would know this argument is one that’s been pushed a lot lately regarding compelling Obama on a multitude of issues. But like I said- zealots are blind to anything outside of themselves. I doubt from your responses here you read anything beyond your own writing.

    Nor is being able to see gradiation telling you where I stand. It’s the ability to figure out what the lay of the land that I am utilizing by telling you who is what. It does not mean that I agree even with the moderate about what to do. But to pretend all is the same is just lazy and stupid.

  • Alec

    @The Gay Numbers: It isn’t that I don’t believe mass action is important; it is, but it is also insufficient. Obviously, sustained grassroots efforts do bear fruit (look at the passage of the (technically unconstitutional) marriage legislation in California before it was vetoed, and the current action in VT and NH, as well as the prospects for change in NY).

    Justice O’Connor did not join in overruling Bowers. That part of the decision was 5-4; she invalidated the Texas sodomy statute, which only prohibited same-sex sexual conduct (oral and anal sex) on equal protection grounds. And she did join in the Bowers majority, which was an incredibly homophobic decision; I don’t care how you slice it.

    Bill has buit up a strawman because it is easier for him to argue with that.

  • Alec

    @Mad Professah: I should be clear; they did apply intermediate scrutiny, just didn’t reach the issue of whether strict scrutiny should apply, as it failed intermediate/heightened anyway.

    I do take some issue with the criticism of the New York decision. Really, I think if you apply rational basis, the decision has merit. But I think a heightened standard of review should apply for sexual orientation discrimination.

  • Alec

    @Bill Perdue: Among other things, I’m not a right winger. I am, however, a pragmatist. And I think some socialists have a tendency to be intellectually dishonest.

    But I’m done.

  • Bill Perdue

    @The Gay Numbers: @The Gay Numbers: Stupid? Not quite.

    Stupid is the sophomoric approach of groveling to ‘leaders’ and asking them to do the ‘right thing’ instead of building our own mass movement to compel them to do the right thing. Stupid is trying to pretend that apologizing for bigots like Obama, which you did during the campaign is anything less than abandonment of our communities or support for the war and handouts for the rich.

    ”… calls for an independent left-wing “militant, massive LGBT action front” are unlikely to take off. I think we’ll continue to follow the civil rights model, including Democratic presidencies (if only for the purpose of getting a fair minded judiciary) and leave the fantasy radicalism to the campus set” vs. “It isn’t that I don’t believe mass action is important…”

  • Bill Perdue

    @Bill Perdue: followed by: At least have the courage of your convictions. Stop shifting continents, parameters and arguing points and stop reversing yourself to look better. We already know your politics and you’re a right centrist. Stick to that and lose all this twisting and squirming. It looks desperate.

  • Alec

    @Bill Perdue: What you describe isn’t Soulforce, a group I support that does essentially the same thing in a targeted way, or other grassroots campaigns designed to educate, raise awareness and stand up for LGBT rights. What you suggest is something altogether different; you want to dilute the issue of gay rights by attaching it to a host of other perceived wrongs, and you’re dismissive of other, complementary tactics.

  • Bill Perdue

    @Seadog: There may be a change in the Republicans but it won’t be substantive. Gingrich wants the GOP to ‘reach out’ the way the Dems do but he’s still a neocon chicken hawk war supporter, a deregulator, for low taxes for the rich and austerity for working people. And a bigot. He might as well be a Democrat.

    I think the big changes will be on the left in the form of electoral challenges by the Labor Party, funded and founded by the AFL-CIO. There’s also a resurgence of interest in independent Black political action. However that works out these parties to the left of the twin parties will likely use elections as a tool for education and organizing. After all if elections were capable of changing things they’d be abolished on the spot because this is the biggest banana republic of them all.

    If you’re in a union raise these issues and get the union to act on them, and if not, until the electoral logjam breaks be as active as you can to help compel the bullshit politicians to give us what we want. If there aren’t any activist groups where you are create one.

    Now I’ve got to go have a look at Nessman. I’ve put it off too long.

  • Bill Perdue

    @Alec: if by “dismissive of other, complementary tactics” you mean I won’t ever stoop to supporting a party of bigots, war supporters and toadies of the rich like the Republicans or the Democrats you’re absolutely right.

    You on the other hand…

    And don’t bother with Nessman…

  • strumpetwindsock

    @Bill Perdue:
    Not always. Bill.

    Not that there aren’t times when people have to go into the streets, but as I mentioned, the change happened here without any torching of buildings or hanging of despots. It was spearheaded by advocacy groups, and an active campaign, but it all happened in the courts.

    And since the decision was made there had been little backlash other than some JPs complaning that their “religious rights” were being infringed upon. Not to say that homophobia isn’t alive and well in Canada. But the marriage issue is settled. Even the most right-wing here accept that.


    Sorry man…. no blood.

    Reading the DesMoines newspaper article gave me the feeling that people in Iowa just “got it”. It gave me a very hopeful feeling that people can get beyond dogma to learn to treat each othe rbetter, and that change sometimes can happen by means other than confrontation.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Bill Perdue: You like most zealots expect people to tip toe around you. That’s not going to happen with me. You are stupid. There is not a real conversation. Everytime there is a post like this, you come in spewing bullshit that’s over the top and rarely on topic. Do you notice tha tyou are the one who got us off the discussion of IA etc. it became once again about your agenda rather than gay rights. I don’t even think you care about gay rights despite your use of it.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @strumpetwindsock: It’s not enough for Bill that people get it. They must understand it as bill wants them to understand it. This is why I question whether for him it is really about rights at all.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Bill Perdue: What the fuck are you talking about? Where does Alec support bigots, and isn’t this post about the IA case. You are moving more and more away from that to your issues, which have very little to do with gay rights.

  • The Gay Numbers


    The Oconnor decision in Lawrence was both different, but also in somewhat broader in that it used equal protection rather than privacy.

    I don’t have time to look up legit analysis, but here ‘s something that basically gets it right from Wikipedia:

    “Justice Sandra Day O’Connor filed a concurring opinion, agreeing with the invalidation of the Texas anti-sodomy statute, but not with Kennedy’s rationale. O’Connor disagreed with both the overturning of Bowers (she had been in the Bowers majority) and with the court’s invocation of due process guarantees of liberty in this context. O’Connor instead preferred the equal protection argument which would still strike the law because it was directed against a group rather than an act, but would avoid the inclusion of sexuality under protected liberty.

    O’Connor maintained that a sodomy law that was neutral both in effect and application might well be constitutional, but that there was little to fear because “democratic society” would not tolerate it for long. She left the door open for laws which distinguished between homosexuals and heterosexuals on the basis of legitimate state interest, but found that this was not such a law. ..

    O’Connor’s opinion was broader than the majority’s, for as Antonin Scalia noted in dissent it explicitly cast doubt on whether laws limiting marriage to heterosexual couples could pass rational-basis scrutiny. O’Connor explicitly noted in her opinion that a law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples would pass the rational scrutiny as long as it was designed to preserve traditional marriage, and not simply based on the state’s dislike of homosexual persons.”

    THere is also her views regarding Romer. “In 1996, in Romer v. Evans, O’Connor joined the majority in striking down a Colorado state constitutional amendment banning all civil rights protections for gay people. It was the first out-and-out victory for gay-rights litigants in the Court’s history. It put a stop to a movement that threatened the political progress made by gay advocates in cities across the country. It also declared that “animus” against gay people is not a legitimate basis for legislation under the U.S. Constitution.”

    My point is not that she would have joined a majority decision in invalidating gay marriage bans, but that her arguments (given their logic) would have pushed for a higher scrutiny than rational basis, and that may have lead to a concurrence.

    I see none of the conservatives on the court now agreeing with such a view. Certainly not Alito. Almost certainly not Roberts. My point is solely that we need to gain the votes on the Court. That means pushing Obama to pick justices that will follow the direction bieng pushed by the states and international about gays as a suspect class and as a group entitled to protection under the law.

    So it’s a bit more complicated than you described. I did not say that she was someone who was a great supporter of gay rights. I am, however, saying that when you are looking for votes on a court, and you already have one Justice signaling their acceptance of equal protection analysis for gays- that opens another door. It actually opens potentially the one that we really need at the federal level.

  • The Gay Numbers


    A follow up- the core problem with the majority decision in Lawrence was that it was based on privacy rather than protecting gays from sexual orientation animus. The most powerful arguements in our favor are equal protection analysis. Privacy is less so just because its traditonally on shakier ground. Now, I think both are true, but that does not mean I do not see the strategic value of equal protection analysis and being found to be a class for whom there is animus.

  • Attmay

    @Alec: No shit. I point out the evils of the Islamic religion and defend the Israeli response to the terrorist neo-Nazi hate group Hamas that demands a country they don’t deserve, and suddenly I’m a “zionist” (which I am, because I support the only non-wretched, remotely free country, that has any chances of gay rights advances in this millennium, in the otherwise wretched Middle East), and a “racist” (never mind that Islam is not a race; if I were a racist I would have attacked Arabs, which I did not; members of other races are trapped in that homophobic death cult as well, some by choice).

    I, for one, refuse to form a coalition with supposedly oppressed peoples who hate gay people’s guts. We are better off trying to woo the few (but growing) pro-gay conservatives, libertarians, objectivists, etc. to actively work for our side. No one can possibly believe you can put your eggs in one basket.

    I wouldn’t mind rioting in the streets and the hanging of anti-gay despots, but only if all other options have failed.

  • The Gay Numbers


    I swear this is the last before you answer (or if you decide to answer I should say). The reason why all of this matters is that there are two ways to bring gays into Con law juris for the purpose of equal protection. It can happen all at once. Or, as with the NAACP strategy, it can happen by dismantling the rational piece by piece, and building the case piece by piece. For example, finding animus in one case. Finding equal protection analysis applies in another. Etc.

    Also, there are other elements that may lead to the finding a suspect class. For example, I find this argument by the IA S.Ct. to be very good. It , of course, will not control in any federal case, but it does provide insight about immutability of traits (that we need not prove sexuality to be biologically immutable, but only so integral as to be immutable in effect):

    “Immutability of Sexual Orientation

    The parties, consistent with the same-sex-marriage scholarship, opinions and jurisprudence, contest whether sexual orientation is immutable or unresponsive to attempted change. The County seizes on this debate to argue the summary judgment granted by the district court in this case was improper because plaintiffs could not prove, as a matter of fact, that sexuality is immutable. This argument, however, essentially limits the constitutional relevance of mutability to those instances in which the trait defining the burdened class is absolutely impervious to change. To evaluate this argument, we must first consider the rationale for using immutability as a factor.

    A human trait that defines a group is “immutable” when the trait exists “solely by the accident of birth,” we agree with those courts that have held the immutability “prong of the suspectness inquiry surely is satisfied when . . . the identifying trait is ‘so central to a person’s identity that it would be abhorrent for government to penalize a person for refusing to change [it].’ ”

    “Because a person’s sexual orientation is so integral an aspect of one’s identity, it is not appropriate to require a person to repudiate or change his or her sexual orientation in order to avoid discriminatory treatment.”).”

  • Bill Perdue

    @The Gay Numbers: Don’t be stupid.

    The Democrats, not those who mistakenly vote for them, but the leaders of that party, are bigots. Dadt, DOMA, ENDA, hate crimes etc. Alec is an apologist for that aprty and so are you.

    Now was that so difficult.

    It’s about same sex marriage and our agenda and how to get it. It’s about compelling change, not groveling.

  • Cee

    I can’t believe that states like Iowa are ahead of California as far as gay rights and equality.

  • geoff

    @Cee: Absolutely agree. It’s insane. But if it can happen in Iowa, hopefully it’ll start happening other places too.

  • Chitown Kev


    I mean, well…Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois already have inclusive ENDA, hate crimes legislation…the whole nine yards. I think that all of these states adopted DOMA when it was passed in 96. Marriage equality is pratically the only thing missing. Now Iowa has marriage equality, a civil unions bill will be up for a vote in Illinois, and Minnesota…who knows?

    We are more progressive in the Midwest than we are given credit for.

  • Travis

    As a gay teenager in south Texas i feel that this event has made America realize that gay people are the exact same as others. i dont think any differently then straight people and i feel that we should not be denied our rights that were written in the constitution becuase some closed minded bible humpers say that it isnt right. i am not hating on christian people because i am a christian( GASP!!! A GAY CHRISTIAN!!!) anywho…i think Iowa has made a very mature choice and i feel that the other states need to open their minds and see that not allowing people to marry really does hurt. i want to get married and adopt children, i want to have a family with the man i love and marry him and who has the right to prevent that from happening??? nobody! i love my boyfriend and i want to eventually become his fiance and marry him.

    anyone who speaks differently can leave the country…if you dont like our rules then get the fuck out.


    -a proud GAY 18 year old :)

  • strumpetwindsock

    @Chitown Kev:
    Or perhaps they’re just a bit more cooperative and community-minded. After all, some might think it radical, but really it’s not at all – recognizing rights is just a matter of respect and common sense.

    I’m not up on your political climate down there, but there’s a lot of hard left activism out on the west coast up here, but just as much on the hard right. It’s very polarized and fractious.
    Here in the prairies the political climate is a lot cooler, and relatively closer to the centre (Alberta excepted). But a lot of the most progressive and cooperative policies and come from right here, not where people are screaming and fighting each other all the time.

    I am grossly oversimplifying, of course, but having lived in both places, there is some truth in it. Waste too much energy on vitriol and that becomes the only thing you fight for.

  • OhYeah

    Not only are Iowa men tough and hot (a lot of them anyway), but they’ve proven to have more of the intellect of Europe (while New York and California are like the Middle East and Africa).

  • tricky ricky

    i read the entire court decision. i rather enjoyed the LONG list of groups that helped the county with its legal argument, for the most part they were all religious group lawyers. the court threw all of their arguments out the window. the courts examination of “its for the children” was great. the entire decision blows up all the rights arguments against gays and basically points out that the only reason for the law was bigotry against gays.

    well done iowa supreme court!

  • tricky ricky

    @The Gay Numbers: wasn’t that great? i loved that part.

  • tricky ricky

    considering 50 some years ago it was illegal to send anything pertaining to homosexuality through the mails, for gays to form organizations or for them to gather in public or private (some of you young ones really need to learn some gay history) this is a landmark decision that blows all of the rights arguments against gays out of the water. bigotry against a minority is not a legal basis for denial of equal rights as was beautifuly stated in this wonderfuly well written and researched opinion.

  • tricky ricky

    this can be summed up with, the counties case didn’t pass the smell test, it stunk to high heaven.

  • Chitown Kev


    There is not a lot of hard right activism in the Midwest with the exception of Indiana and portions of Ohio. There is some hard left activism.

    Moreso, I think there is a strong sense of pragmatism, justice, and fairness in these parts that can go both ways. Midwest culture is not idealistic at all (unlike, say the West Coast). It’s about what works.

  • Chitown Kev

    @Chitown Kev:

    Furthermore, my read on this is that this is a done deal, there will be no ballot initiative in 2012, IMO.

    “It’s over with, let’s just deal with it, there’s work to be done” is a very Midwestern attitude. And we don’t take kindly to outsiders meddling in our politics either. As corrupt as we can be sometimes, we will own our own and tell others to back off.

  • Disgusted American

    Interesting how a country (OUR COUNTRY) ..constantly BOASTS about Freedom this,and Freedom that…”Liberty & Justice for All” blah blah blah…..EMPTY Meaningless words..that mean SQUAT!

    STOP calingl it GAY MARRIAGE – It’s Marriage EQUALITY
    STOP calling it SAME SEX MARRIAGE – We do NOT call hetero Marriage “Opposite Sex Marriage”

    If you don’t like Marriage Equality – then DON’T marry someone of the same sex
    NO Religion will be forced to Marry anyone they deem “unworthy”
    NO Religion will be Locked up or Fined for speaking out against LGBT people – tho Tony Perkins and the AFA WILL LIE and say otherwise(even tho that’s something Jesus would NEVER do..IF he ever existed)

    America – LIVE UP TO YOUR Constant spread of LIES about Personal Freedoms..Either we are ALL Free, or NONE of us are!

    When in America has the Public EVER gotten to VOTE on any other Minority Rights? THEY HAVEN’T!
    When in America was Religion USED to FIGHT Equality for Blacks,Women etc etc……TOO MANY TIMES to COUNT!!!

  • dfrw

    Iowa! Who knew?

  • jason

    What I find interesting is that supposedly conservative Iowa now has legal gay marriage and yet supposedly liberal New York keeps dragging its feet on the issue. Maybe New York liberals are more homophobic than Iowans.

  • strumpetwindsock

    @Chitown Kev:
    That sounds very much like people here.
    Conservative and resistant to change, but with a strong tradition of looking after neighbours and grassroots organizing.
    Just one example, farmers here (some very conservative) did a lot of work for farmers in Nicaragua after the revolution, as well as in Cuba and other countries.
    Plus many of the churches here, particularly Mennonites and Methodists, have a strong tradition of political work.

    So it doesn’t seem odd to me that rural areas or smaller centres sometimes produce more progressive policies than larger cities (which may be more on the cutting edge, but which also have a strongly-entrenched right-wing).

    @OhYeah: That actually reminds me of something funny; a friend of mine moved here from the coast a few years ago and at one point she said to me “I had no idea there were so many dykes here”. She didn’t realize there are a lot of women here, gay and straight, who have the haircut and the look. Butch chic is almost indistinguishable from farm wife chic.

  • Robert, NYC

    Paul McKinley and his ilk need to get it through their collective thick heads that there is NOTHING sacred in regard to civil marriage. Just who does he think he is? Why are his beliefs superior to others and allowed to enact discriminatory amendments against an entire group of people. These right wing rethuglicans in the Grand Obstructionist Party are using their religious cult belief systems to justify discrimination. What morons!

  • The Gay Numbers

    @tricky ricky: Are you referring to the immutablity question? If so, yes, it was a very good response.

  • David Anger

    This is great – now I can marry myself and take a poo on myself and stuff.

  • Attmay

    @Travis: Amen. I sincerely hope people like you are the future of gay America. I have been extremely critical of Christianity in the past, but if more Christians were like you I wouldn’t have to be.

    Where would the bigots go? I’d suggest Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death. They’d fit right in with Ahmadinejad.

    @Disgusted American: I’m as disgusted as you are, especially by the attacks on the judiciary. Where were these judiciophobes when the Supreme Court handed down Kelo v. New London?

    We had to go to war to destroy the evil empire of Southern slavery. We are entering what should ideally be the end game of the gay rights movement, and if it can be done without a single shot fired what an achievement that will be.

  • David Anger

    Is it me or does Alec have no life and lives on Queerty?

  • Ted C.

    Interestingly, Iowa was also the first state in the United States to repeal its sodomy laws. It repealed them in 1961, ten years before any other state. (The next state was Connecticut in 1971.)

  • geoff

    @Chitown Kev: The civil union bill, as far as I have read downstate would have been a higher priority had it not been for the mess Blago left. Still I think as progressive as Illinois claims to be, they could have found the time down here in Springfield to take the time to allow equal rights.As optimistic as I am, it’s still a bit frustrating. I’ve been wearing my engagement ring for 3 and a half years and I want an upgrade.:) Even my partner’s (can’t wait to call him husband) right wing conservative mother is pissed we can’t get married and actually refers to me as he son-in-law. Get that, Illinois legislature? Even some conservatives want equal rights for gays.

  • Gabriel

    @Ted C.: Close. It was Illinois that got rid of their sodomy law in 1961. Iowa got rid of theirs in the early 70s. Again, I believe, before California.

  • mikeandrewsdantescove

    Living in Iowa for 24 years, I thought this day would never come. I’m so proud of my home state for making the impossible possible. My partner and I got married in San Francisco this past summer and still are legally married. It was so nice to file joint state taxes here in California.



  • Ted C.

    @Gabriel: Oh. Sorry, as a foreigner, I get a lot of those states mixed up.

    Iowa’s the one with the potatoes, right? (j/k)

  • Bill Perdue

    @The Gay Numbers:
    @The Gay Numbers:
    @The Gay Numbers:
    @The Gay Numbers:

    Sore loser, emphasis on ‘loser’.
    @strumpetwindsock: Why are you implying that Americans are bloodthirsty arsonists. “torching of buildings or hanging of despots” and “Sorry man…. no blood.” Or is it just me you’re lying about.

    If Canadians, for whatever reason, accepted, or were forced to accept royalist rule (thus the Royal Assent on the same sex marriage bill) that doesn’t justify your suggestion that Americans are bloodthirsty anarchists. That’s what the royalists said in ’76. It wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now.

    it all happened in the courts. Really, aren’t you forgetting about a little thing that federal law legalizing SSM that passed in Parliament and survived a couple of attacks. That had something to do with it.

    You pedantry keeps you from having a clue about US politics and your love for splitting hairs is just and excuse to be against anyone or any group that actually fights for what it wants, but I’d have you at least knew enough about the history of your own country to know it wasn’t all the courts. And even that was due to sea change in public opinion brought about by the fighting spirit of LGBT Canadians over the last few decades, which was finally ratified by the courts and Parliament.

    The same spirit exists here, however much that upsets you, and although the Courts and Congress may never get around to ratifying our struggle before we get down to the fight for fundamental changes here it won’t be for want of our fighting spirit.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @tricky ricky: There are a lot of great arguments that it presents for other cases.

  • strumpetwindsock

    @Ted C.:
    That’s Idaho (yeah I know… kidding). The only time I was in Iowa I saw lots of corn and beautiful rolling landscape.

    @Bill Perdue:
    No Bill, I was talking to you personally, not Americans generally.
    You were making your usual argument that a change of this sort only comes about when people turn to the radical left and force it.

    I am telling you that is not how it happened here. I know I didn’t post the most scholarly of links, but it is all there in black and white.

    Marriage equality passed in Canada for two reasons:
    1)It was the right thing to do
    2)Courts struck down the old law because it violated our charter of rights, and that was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. This happened before the federal vote.
    Even though some of the provinces voted to change the law earlier (most because they supported it) the writing was on the wall; everyone knew the law had to change.

    It seems like Iowa made their decision in a similar reasoned and orderly fashion… or did I miss the story about the general strike and the ultimatum from the anarcho/labour/queer coalition?

    I can appreciate you get all sweaty at the thought of hardball politics and uprising masses, but the fact is lasting change usually does not come about through force, nor from extremes of the political spectrum. Not to say activism isn’t necessary, but it cannot change anything without a shift in the general public.

    Sorry to have to be rude Bill.
    I agree with some of your opinions, but most of your ideas are sheer fiction; they are surprisingly similar to the dogma of those religions you hate, and have about as much of a footing in reality. They also rely solely on conflict, non-negotiation, and demonizing your enemies.
    They lack any sense of the lessons of history, or of how politics and the general public actually function in the real world.

  • gay super hero

    Iowa OKs gay marriage…..So what??????

    Who cares about a state of three million at the back of beyond?

    American queers should really get a grip. Fighting for marriage state-by-state only serves to validate your opponents’ argument that same-sex marriage “should be left to the states”. Meanwhile federal law still doesn’t recognise those marriages. They don’t get the same fiscal benefits as heterosexuals and marrying a foreign national is out of the question since citizenship rights are also decided federally. Is this really marriage? I don’t think so.

    Lgbt’s should really focus their fight on the federal level, doing everything they can to help the election of friendly representatives and the appointment of friendly judges. Everything else is a waste of time, money and resources – which is exactly what the homophobes of this world want.

    If the civil rights movement had fought for civil rights state-by-state they’d still be at it.

  • Bill Perdue

    @strumpetwindsock: Sorry to have to be rude Bill.

    You have no choice. Every time you comment on politics you get shot down in flames. Imagine, a Canadian forgetting that Canada has a Parliament and that it passed the SSM law because of pressure from the LGBT movement.

    In response you resort to playing Rou Cohn, but, as usual, not very well. It’s not that your hearts no in it, it’s just that your lack of knowledge, imagination and your tiresome fussiness makes your opinions beside the point.

    And it dispels your presumption that you’re really on our side, but just interested in correcting a few or our overenthusiastic mistakes. Be as rude as you want, it makes clear that you and I are on opposite sides of the political battlefield.

  • strumpetwindsock

    Following the court challenges each province governments decided to not appeal the court rulings; that decision was made by the governments of the day, not by a vote in the legislature (sorry… it’s late).

    The challenges in the House of Commons you mention Bill? People knew that wasn’t going to have any effect on the final outcome. That had more to do with the opposition trying to force Liberals to declare how they would vote on the issue to make them look bad or break party ranks. It was politics.

    The real decision was made in the courts, and governments had no choice but to follow.

  • strumpetwindsock

    @Bill Perdue:

    Bill, either you did not read the article I posted or you are simply lying. In either case, you are wrong. The government announced it would introduce legislation on the same day the Supreme Court upheld the lower court rulings.

    But goodnight to you.

    @gay super hero:
    I agree with you about action on the federal level.
    On the other hand, don’t discount the actions of smaller states just because they managed to accomplish something that larger states have not yet. Think of it as a good example to follow.

    Our province is only 1 million and was one of the poorest in the country, but we managed to bring in universal health care. That was five years before our federal government brought it in country-wide.

  • Gabriel

    @Ted C.:
    “Iowa’s the one with the potatoes, right? (j/k)”

    LOL. Iowa’s big on corn and pork. Insert joke here.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @strumpetwindsock: well, we can see how Bill likes to demonize people here. We are all his enemies to the death. But then, that’s the problem with zealotry. It really does blind you like Bill seems to be.

  • Bill Perdue

    @The Gay Numbers: Demonize? Well actually I’ve branded you as a Democratic apologist and an Obamabot, so I suppose you’re right.

    If you support Obama, and you did, then you own all his rightist politicis. There’s no way to weasel out of it.

  • Luis Montalvo

    I have long been aware of the lunatic and irrational intersections in which conservative and liberal idealogues meet at the intellectual dark ends of the street.

    Thankfully, one man is shedding some light on the situation.

    Philip Howard, who is a lawyer, a philanthropist and the author of a new book, “Life Without Lawyers,” is one example of the people in America who are the result of what can be done with an individual life when one is more open than closed to the range of human and career possibility in our country.

    A refined and handsome white-haired man, Howard does not offer any clue to his actual background and how far he climbed to a position of such easeful privilege from somewhere near the very bottom of the social barrel. He began in eastern Kentucky as the impoverished son of an impoverished country preacher.

    Howard is a perfect representative of the Obama era because, like our embattled President and his wife, Howard projects more confidence than discomfort and says what he has to say in a tone that seems much more accurate than speculative.

    “We have to face up to the fact that we are in the process of losing our freedom due to a set of laws that have intimidated so many people that they have become paralyzed,” Howard told me recently.

    He went on to say that fear of litigation has become so huge a shadow over our nation that people tremble in it and do not know how to move for fear of being sued. Our courts are clogged up with cases that have less to do with things of importance than with a momentary instance of imposed culpability for very minor offenses.

    “Subjects like racism, sexism and child abuse are very serious things. There can be no argument about that. But their importance has been diluted by all of the cases that make claims so far from the realms of intelligence and common sense. This leads to the real problems and the real abuses being trivialized,” the lawyer explained.

    As Howard makes clear in his book, freedom is something that extremists of either persuasion find too much to bear. Their desire for control is to finally take it all to the courts or hector for the passage of laws that put opponents in their proper places.

    Any lawyer at Howard’s intellectual level is familiar with our social history and knows certain things quite well: that injustice and unfairness have been held in place during those periods when even unconstitutional laws were allowed to create bigoted order. Part of what has been our nation’s mission of advancement has been to remove those unfair laws from the books and take on the conventions of thought that supported them.

  • strumpetwindsock

    @Luis Montalvo:
    Or as you imply it becomes a process which is no longer legal;
    the threat alone is enough to intimidate people.

    Another good example is the recent tactic of police and security guards preventing people from simply taking photos in public places (Especially bad in England), although in almost all cases there are no regulations against it.

  • John K.


  • John K.

    @gay super hero: The problem is, we cannot get a US Supreme Court decision saying it is a federal issue until we get a solid number of states on board. Interracial marriage was legal in all but 18 states when the US Supreme Court struck down the remaining bans.

    That’s not to say we don’t lobby the feds to federally recognize those marriages and civil unions from states that DO recognize them. There is already a move afoot to repeal the section of DOMA that defines marriage as between a man and a woman for purposes of federal law.

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