Judge Robert Hanson of Polk County, Iowa struck down the state’s decade-old anti-gay marriage statute this morning, finding that it violated the state constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses.
Gay couples across the state of Iowa are now free to apply for marriage licenses.
While I was excited to learn of this ruling for gay equality, I fear it will be short lived. The Polk County attorney plans on appealing the ruling to the State Supreme Court, and he has already filed a stay to prevent gay couples from marrying until the appeal is resolved.
What’s worse, Republican House Minority Leader Christopher Rants is already preparing an anti-gay marriage amendment to Iowa’s constitution.
We saw how the 2003 Massachusetts ruling in favor of marriage equality ushered in backlash across the country, culminating in 27 state amendments denying the right of marriage to gays. I fear this Iowa ruling will have a similar effect, especially with election season upon us. This is why I’m generally against sweeping court decisions like this. I think an incremental steps toward equality such as the ones in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Washington, Virginia, and Michigan.
I may be overly pessimistic–a lot has changed even in the five years since the Massachusetts ruling. In spite of all of the state wide amendments banning gay marriage, we have seen several states move in the opposite direction to provide the status of civil unions to gay couples (though still unequal).
In addition, Rove (mastermind of the gay-baiting tactics to get out the conservative base) is gone. The ‘family values’ wing of the Republican party is awash with the sex scandals of Senators Craig and Vitter. And recent polling has indicated that social wedge issues like gay marriage and abortion may not have the pull they had in past, what with two failing wars in the Middle East and all.
Either way, should be a very interesting case to follow, and certainly more to come on the Blitz.