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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Iowa Supreme Court unanimously strikes down gay marriage ban (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Iowa Supreme Court unanimously strikes down gay marriage ban
Samprimary
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http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102691961
quote:
The Iowa Supreme Court unamimously struck down the state's gay marriage ban Friday, ruling that it violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples.

In 2005, Lambda Legal, a New York-based gay rights organization, sued on behalf of six gay and lesbian Iowa couples in Polk County who were denied marriage licenses. Some of their children are also listed as plaintiffs.
The case was appealed to the state Supreme Court in 2007, after Polk County District Court Judge Robert Hanson agreed with the plaintiffs and ruled that the ban was unconstitutional.

Hanson's ruling prompted nearly two dozen people to apply for marriage licenses in the county, Iowa's most populous and home to Des Moines. Only one couple, Sean and Tim McQuillan of Ames, managed to get married before Hanson stayed his decision the next day.

During oral arguments before the state Supreme Court in December, Des Moines lawyer Dennis Johnson argued that the ban violated his clients' due process and equal protection rights.

"We are suggesting that everybody be able to participate equally in an institution that has existed since the beginning of this state," Johnson said during arguments.

Roger Kuhle, an assistant Polk County attorney, argued that the lower court's ruling for the plaintiffs violates the separation of powers and that the issue should be left to the Legislature.

"We are not here opposing the individual plaintiffs' sincerity. We are here because, in our view, the issue is one for the Legislature to decide as a matter of social policy," he told the seven-member court.

During oral arguments, Chief Justice Marsha Ternus explained that the high court would determine whether the district court erred by finding that the same-sex marriage ban violated the state constitution, and whether it erred by not allowing the county's expert witness testimony.

The timing of the ruling's release could be awkward for state lawmakers, who are on track to end the legislative session in coming weeks.

Before the ruling, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal told reporters that it's "exceedingly unlikely" that the Legislature would deal with the gay marriage issue this year, regardless of the court's ruling.

"This is the final step in a lengthy legal proceedings," the Democrat said. "We're going to wait and see that decision and review it before we take any action."

Around the nation, only Massachusetts and Connecticut permit same-sex marriage. California, which briefly allowed gay marriage before a voter initiative in November repealed it, allows domestic partnerships.

New Jersey and New Hampshire also offer civil unions, which provide many of the same rights that come with marriage. New York recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, and legislators there and in New Jersey are weighing whether to offer marriage. A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Vermont is before the state House.

=)
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dkw
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The court ruling. It's a beautifully written document that addresses just about every possible angle.
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Samprimary
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Cue bemoaning about the destruction of marriage and/or abandonment of ideals necessary for children in 5, 4, 3 ..
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Vadon
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I'm happy about this.

You may want to continue counting down after my post. [Smile]

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
Cue bemoaning about the destruction of marriage and/or abandonment of ideals necessary for children in 5, 4, 3 ..

The decision addresses those.
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King of Men
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I'm sure it does; what does that have to do with the expected bemoaning?
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mr_porteiro_head
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[Frown]
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scifibum
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I think it's great. I thought it was a very well reasoned decision. However, it's the only court decision I can remember reading through in full, so I don't exactly have a measured standard for these things.

My bias is toward SSM, not really as a matter of fairness or justice but because I think it will benefit society. My expectation is that marriage, as an institution and as a social force for stability and producing good citizens, will be strengthened by making it available to more people (It has to be both attractive and attainable). I don't fear for the kids of gay couples because they're more likely to be wanted and cherished (and therefore raised conscientiously) than kids of opposite sex couples. I think this factor by itself outweighs any unique benefit that comes from having both a mom and a dad. I also think that increased social acceptance won't increase the rate of homosexuality but will decrease rates of sexual repression that has harmful side effects.

I'll be watching with interest to see if Iowa opponents of SSM rally to do something like California's Proposition 8.

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0Megabyte
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Now careful. No need to give the impression of gloating. (I get the impression, so whether it's there or not, I'd imagine actual opponents of SSM might perceive it.)
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The Rabbit
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[Smile]
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by 0Megabyte:
Now careful. No need to give the impression of gloating.

Aw, why not?
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Lisa
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Hey, Iowa is driving distance from here.

Anyway, 3 down, 48 to go (I'm counting DC).

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advice for robots
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
Cue bemoaning about the destruction of marriage and/or abandonment of ideals necessary for children in 5, 4, 3 ..

There goes another respectful discussion.
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JennaDean
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quote:
I don't fear for the kids of gay couples because they're more likely to be wanted and cherished (and therefore raised conscientiously) than kids of opposite sex couples.
???
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by JennaDean:
quote:
I don't fear for the kids of gay couples because they're more likely to be wanted and cherished (and therefore raised conscientiously) than kids of opposite sex couples.
???
I think that scifibum is referring to the fact that SS couples rarely have children by accident.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by JennaDean:
quote:
I don't fear for the kids of gay couples because they're more likely to be wanted and cherished (and therefore raised conscientiously) than kids of opposite sex couples.
???
Statistically it's true, I think, that kiddos raised by same-sex parents are more likely to have a stable and productive environment to grow up in.

Causation vs. correlation aside, that's prolly what that means.

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scifibum
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JennaDean, please note the use of "likely". I think there are unexpected and unwanted kids born to opposite sex couples*, and that this might correlate to poor parenting. I think this is much less likely to happen to a same sex couple.

This does not reflect on the quality of parenting of opposite sex couples who want to have children. (And I think there are a lot of parents, myself included, with accident babies who nonetheless do a good job.)

*Or single heterosexual parents.

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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by JennaDean:
quote:
I don't fear for the kids of gay couples because they're more likely to be wanted and cherished (and therefore raised conscientiously) than kids of opposite sex couples.
???
I think that scifibum is referring to the fact that SS couples rarely have children by accident.
And the fact that a far higher proportion of gay parents have to convince some board whose job it is to look out for the welfare of children that they will be good parents.
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scifibum
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I think I phrased it very badly. It'd be more clear to say that same sex couples are highly unlikely to have accident babies, and that premeditated babies are more likely to have a stable and support home environment. Sorry if I gave the impression that opposite sex couples are somehow inferior parents.
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Jhai
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Or, in less clear terms, if you're behind the veil of ignorance, you should choose to be born as the child of a same-sex couple rather than a hetrosexual one. Less chance of being born into abject poverty that way, too.
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Teshi
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"Premeditated babies", heh.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Teshi:
"Premeditated babies", heh.

That's my new band name.

Great ruling. [Smile]

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SenojRetep
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How disappointing.

Reading the decision, I don't believe this ruling would have happened without California's bumping up the scrutiny standard. I think California was wrong in that finding, and so have been Iowa and Connecticut, inasmuch as they are based on California.

Here's hoping the citizens of Iowa can rectify the situation. And that the US Supreme Court corrects the scrutiny misjudgment.

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
How disappointing.

Quick question, and it's not meant as an attack.

What could it take for you to be convinced that same-sex marriage is okay? Anything?

I don't fully know what you expect to happen with same-sex marriage legal, but if Massachusetts and Connecticut and Iowa don't fall into...whatever it is you think they will fall into...will that convince you? Or will nothing do it?

Just curious. If you've covered this in another thread, I apologize, but I haven't seen it.

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
How disappointing.

Reading the decision, I don't believe this ruling would have happened without California's bumping up the scrutiny standard. I think California was wrong in that finding, and so have been Iowa and Connecticut, inasmuch as they are based on California.

Here's hoping the citizens of Iowa can rectify the situation. And that the US Supreme Court corrects the scrutiny misjudgment.

Does the opinion say that the California decision had anything to do with their decision to apply heightened scrutiny? Without re-reading the whole thing, my impression is they made a good case, independent of anything that happened in California, that rational basis test did not apply and that heightened scrutiny was required.
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Lyrhawn
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Happy though I may be to see this ruling, I think its joyous reception is counting chickens before they've hatched.

I know there are measures in other states before state legislatures and what not that are considering legalization, and in places like Vermont, they probably stand a decent chance of going through.

But Iowa? The forces of anti-gay marriage are going to have a new poster child for the 2010 elections, and you can bet that a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage will be on there, and I'll be surprised if it doesn't pass. I'm a little surprised they didn't join the bandwagon of other states that have banned it in the last few years, especially on the 2008 elections. 2006 and 2008 were banner years for anti-gay marriage supporters. It would appear they still have battlegrounds left to partake in in 2010, and I have no doubt that they will do so.

This was the easy part. They only had to convince nine people. Now they're going to have to get a majority of the citizenry on their side.

Poll taken on December 1st, 2008 in Iowa. In fact, the poll specifically asks people questions about the very Supreme Court decision we're talking about now. The result?

62% oppose gay marriage. 58% are in favor of civil unions.

On the Supreme Court decision specifically?

35% would accept a decision that legalized gay marriage. 55% support amending the constitution to ban gay marriage, but 27% of those say they'd vote to allow civil unions as an exception to the ban. Almost 10% are undecided.

The Supreme Court didn't decide this long term, they just threw down the gauntlet.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
How disappointing.

Reading the decision, I don't believe this ruling would have happened without California's bumping up the scrutiny standard. I think California was wrong in that finding, and so have been Iowa and Connecticut, inasmuch as they are based on California.

The more states that abolish this form of discrimination against the rights of gays, the closer the top courts and legislators come to the establishment of the universal legality of same sex marriage in the united states.

If we tie that back to California 'bumping up the scrutiny standard,' under your theory, that means that decisions 'sparked' by California have brought us closer to a more expedient resolution of SSM discrimination issues by making it legal in all 50 states.

Which means that the conservative groups and religions who worked their butts off to get prop 8 passed in Cali will have, for the benefit of that short-term gain, inexorably harmed their movement in the long run.

I find this all profoundly encouraging and even vindicating, considering that over four years ago I concluded and brazenly stated that:

1. the establishment of gay marriage rights are inevitable in the US, and

2. the groups that fight against gays will be internally harmed and politically and culturally marginalized by this crusade; those that fight the hardest will lose the most.

Onward to victory.

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Bokonon
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
How disappointing.

Quick question, and it's not meant as an attack.

What could it take for you to be convinced that same-sex marriage is okay? Anything?

I don't fully know what you expect to happen with same-sex marriage legal, but if Massachusetts and Connecticut and Iowa don't fall into...whatever it is you think they will fall into...will that convince you? Or will nothing do it?

Just curious. If you've covered this in another thread, I apologize, but I haven't seen it.

I'm more interested on the implication that the Massachusetts ruling rested on a substantially different rationale than California's, and is there a reason for Iowa and Connecticut to use use that rationale versus the one in Massachusetts? I'd be interested in hearing why that is.

-Bok

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ambyr
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
But Iowa? The forces of anti-gay marriage are going to have a new poster child for the 2010 elections, and you can bet that a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage will be on there, and I'll be surprised if it doesn't pass. I'm a little surprised they didn't join the bandwagon of other states that have banned it in the last few years, especially on the 2008 elections.

Unlike other states, Iowa's constitution requires more than a direct referendum for amendment. Details here, but in short, two consecutive assemblies would need to approve the amendment before it could go out to the voters for final approval. So no way to pass an amendment before 2012 at the earliest.
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natural_mystic
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quote:
Originally posted by ambyr:
Unlike other states, Iowa's constitution requires more than a direct referendum for amendment. Details here, but in short, two consecutive assemblies would need to approve the amendment before it could go out to the voters for final approval. So no way to pass an amendment before 2012 at the earliest.

At least we know in advance the reason for every natural disaster in Iowa between now and 2012 [Wink]
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:

Reading the decision, I don't believe this ruling would have happened without California's bumping up the scrutiny standard.

I'm pretty sure that both California and Mass both said that they found that bans on gay marriage didn't even survive the rational basis test, let alone the higher levels of scrutiny. The Iowa judges didn't explictly consider the rational basis test, but what is your evidence for thinking that the Iowa judges would disagree with their counterparts in those states?

Are there states where the court did find that banning gay marriage passed the rational basis test?

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Orincoro
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Nice post Sam. I feel very deeply about this issue as a fundamental example of the onward progress of personal freedoms in the US. I hope anti-gay demonstrators and ban-supporters feel shame for what they've done in the future. But hell, there are still people alive today who voted against civil rights amendments in the 1960's, and we don't hear a whole lot from them- so I have some hope.

And I think that's pretty justified. Hardcore bigotry is not, I think, the biggest issue with this whole debate. Most of the people who support these ban amendments are 1) older people, and 2) more passively unwilling to change the status quo for any number of reasons. I really don't think the religious convictions that lead some to support bans will prevail even in most churches- people will grow old and die, new pastors and priests will come up, new younger parishioners will come to churches, and the dinosaur ideas about homosexuality will slowly shrivel and die. They give nothing to their religions, and as Sam pointed out quite succinctly, they take away a great deal of those churches' ability to stay centered and accessible. There will always be gays, and thus, there will always be progress.

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kmbboots
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The arc does bend toward justice after all.
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SenojRetep
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Bok-

Here's a Slate article written at the time of the California ruling (not Prop 8, Samp; I'm not sure what you're talking about) that explains why strict scrutiny (or the slightly watered down "heightened scrutiny" used by Iowa and, IIRC, Connecticut) is a significantly higher bar for laws to overcome.

Essentially, if a group characteristic (in this case sexual orientation) is deemed sufficient according to certain standards, then laws must meet a higher level of justification. In the MA case, the SJC ruled according to "rational basis," which indicated that a lower threshold of justifiability would be required for laws restricting gay marriage. The CA court asserted strict scrutiny protection for laws pertaining to homosexuals, setting the bar significantly higher. Which I believe was the precedent under which the law in Iowa (and Connecticut) was deemed unconstitutional.

Javert (sorry, this turned out to be quite long, and I don't have time to go back over and edit it; read at your own peril. Also the length virtually guarantees that I have made general statements that I wouldn't be able to back up if asked to, so YMMV)-

I have covered my feelings in other threads, and it usually leads me into highly contentious arguments, which leads to insomnia, which leads to me feeling that it's not worth it. So I will try to state my feelings, but I won't guarantee to engage in the discussion long term.

I believe that marriage is primarily a social construct and the definition of it should be left to civil society, rather than the state. I don't believe marriage is a "right" in a substantive sense. I do recognize the state's current interest in regulating (particularly promoting) marriage-like relationships. However, I believe the current marriage laws, even under a liberalized construction, are at odds with that interest.

Marriage exists external to the state; when the state organized, it chose to regulate marriage. I posit two possible reasons: 1) to prevent certain citizens from procreating or 2) to promote stable dyadic unions within the society. I personally believe it was primarily for the former, but over time, and particularly as our society has become more mobile, the latter interpretation has come to dominate. This is unfortunate, because the latter interest doesn't really relate to "marriage" but to what I think is more appropriately termed "domestic partnerships" which would include all forms to socially-stable dyadic unions, including many that remain excluded even under a liberalized definition of "marriage." Simultaneously, the state has moved fairly determinedly away from regulating reproduction, through refusing to legalize abortion, forgoing mandatory genetic testing, and implicitly or explicitly rejecting laws that would confine heterosexual intercourse to be within a marriage.

So, I feel the state has lost its interest in regulating marriage. What it still has an interest in is regulating domestic partnerships, a set of relationships which would include most if not all marriages.

The problem is in the conflation of the two different things. What I feel is needed is not a further incursion by the state into defining the social construct of marriage, but an unentangling of its interest in regulating reproduction from its interest in promoting socially stable dyadic unions. <edit>Particularly because the liberalized versions of "marriage" continue to exclude classes of domestic partnerships taht I feel should be promoted under the same auspices</edit>

I'm not institutionally opposed (although I am personally opposed) to extending the term "marriage" to include homosexual unions. What I do feel, though, is it should be carried out in churches and clubs, in businesses and bars, rather than legislatures and courtrooms. When (if) society is sufficiently comfortable with extending the construct, it will be established not through the force of the state, but as a natural outgrowth of the society. I generally feel that the use of state powers to compel the citizenry to accept a particular construct, to force public opinion through the threat of law, is dangerous and should be avoided.

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Orincoro
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You assume that public opinion is not in favor for equal rights, or will remain not in favor of equal rights. I think that's changing, and I think individuals exercising their rights in courtrooms brings legitimacy and attention to their real life needs- not of a future utopia, but of today. Gays realized at some point in the past few decades that the rest of society would be pretty content just to just ignore their needs as long as they didn't ask for anything else. But the needs of a free individual today are just as valid as those of a future person, in a more perfect union. We have a duty to tackle these difficult changes when they arise, and not when we feel safe and ready, because, guess what? That time will never really come- the change will be a struggle no matter what.
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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
I generally feel that the use of state powers to compel the citizenry to accept a particular construct, to force public opinion through the threat of law, is dangerous and should be avoided.

It appears that the Iowa Supreme Court agrees with you.

quote:
From the ruling:
Whether expressly or impliedly, much of society rejects same-sex marriage due to sincere, deeply ingrained— even fundamental—religious belief.
Yet, such views are not the only religious views of marriage. As demonstrated by amicus groups, other equally sincere groups and people in
Iowa and around the nation have strong religious views that yield the opposite conclusion.

Our constitution does not permit any branch of government to resolve these types of religious debates and entrusts to courts the task of
ensuring government avoids them.
The statute at issue in this case does not prescribe a definition of marriage
for religious institutions. Instead, the statute declares, “Marriage is a civil contract” and then regulates that civil contract. Thus,
in pursuing our task in this case, we proceed as civil judges, far removed from the theological debate of religious clerics, and focus only on the concept of civil marriage and the state licensing system that identifies a limited class
of persons entitled to secular rights and benefits associated with civil marriage.


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Impliedly?

There's my new word for the day.

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Tresopax
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I have to wonder if we're headed for a future where every state ends up having to explicitly spell out the definition of marriage in their Constitution, in order to prevent courts from defining it in ways the voters don't like.
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Speed
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Alabama: Marriage is defined as the legal union between a man and his underage cousin.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Marriage exists external to the state; when the state organized, it chose to regulate marriage.
I don't follow. Taking religion out of the question - as we should for a question of whether or not the state should do something, generally - in what way did marriage exist external to the state?

Prior to any sort of government, wouldn't marriage pretty much be people shacking up together and (usually) producing children some time after?

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Boris
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
Marriage exists external to the state; when the state organized, it chose to regulate marriage.
I don't follow. Taking religion out of the question - as we should for a question of whether or not the state should do something, generally - in what way did marriage exist external to the state?

Prior to any sort of government, wouldn't marriage pretty much be people shacking up together and (usually) producing children some time after?

Marriage has only been recognized and rewarded officially by governments in the modern age. They were primarily religious or familial contracts until modern governments decided to grant specific advantages to family organizations.
Medieval marriages were governed only by the Catholic Church and were not given any special benefits (though it could be argued that in many situations the church *was* the government, but that's a completely different discussion). Marriages prior to modern times were often arranged and designed to resolve disagreements or just strengthen ties in general. Royal marriages in particular were often meant to act as a stronger form of peace contract or alliance between rival nations. After all, a piece of paper can be easily ignored, but how do you attack the nation of the person you share a bed with and not hear about it every single night?

Government bodies giving rewards for marriage and family units is a relatively recent phenomenon in respect to the whole of history.

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Rakeesh
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So I was talking about this with a guy I know at work. He's the sort of fellow who's pretty complacent in his ignorance, if you know what I mean. Somehow the other day we got talking about Alexander the Great, and he mentioned that Alexander was mentioned in the Bible. By name, specifically.

Anyway, I mentioned this court ruling to this guy knowing I'd get a rise out of him. Somewhere in his rants about America being a Christian nation, us being one step closer to people marrying their pets, and how he'd have to put his kid into private school, he said he'd heard on the radio that the governor of Iowa could overturn this Supreme Court decision.

Naturally I was skeptical of such a claim, but I was wondering: is there any inkling of truth to that, from anyone more familiar with the subject than I am?

I mean, I read the CNN story and it's mentioned that the earliest a marriage amendment could even get on a ballot is 2012. Is that accurate, and is there anything the governor could do about that?

It'd be pretty damn awesome if it really would stick for 2 1/2 years, though, without any conservative 'family values' group being able to whip up a frenzy and stop it.

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Samprimary
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quote:
You assume that public opinion is not in favor for equal rights, or will remain not in favor of equal rights. I think that's changing
Opposition to gay marriage dropped into a plurality not too long ago; it's not impossible that support for gay marriage has taken the top slot by now, and it will definitely have happened in 3-5 years.

Everything else, clear majority support for the gays. Equivalent rights to marriage for gays, mega-majority. Likewise with support for allowing gays to adopt.

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Olivet
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First of all, [Smile]

Secondly, this is one of those topics that makes me absolutely certain I don't see things the way most people do.

I don't get why people want the government defining their sacraments, or why secular rules can't just be the same for everyone regardless of gender, race, religion, or the size of their nose.

I've tried really hard to see the difference between this and the bans on interracial marriage that many states once had.

This may be because I don't really believe there is any significant difference between men and women, outside their obvious and enjoyable meat space differences.

I'm usually really good at seeing things from all perspectives, and it disturbs me a little that I have yet to hear a pro-ban rationale that makes logical sense to me. [Frown]

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Happy though I may be to see this ruling, I think its joyous reception is counting chickens before they've hatched.
...

I agree.

I'd also add that the way this (great?) game seems to be playing out is in a painful internecine state-by-state manner via courts and referendums.

Without some form of federal intervention, this thing could drag on for many years. It is also worth noting that if Obama doesn't address the issue that could easily mean 8 years without a final word (and if he's succeeded by a Bush III, perhaps 16 years).

Also, it is worth noting that immigration to the US tilts towards Latin America, traditional marriage advocates will find allies that can slow down the zeitgeist(?) that we seem to be appealing to.

So while I certainly hope to be pleasantly surprised by a resolution in the near future, I'm not sure I share the optimism that it likely will.

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Vadon
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Five Thirty Eight is predicting that the decision will likely stay in place until at least 2012 because of institutional road-blocks.
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scholarette
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Olivet- I kinda agree with you. For me, the fact that the government has the power to say that 2 stranger who get drunk in Vegas are a family, but 2 other people, who have been devoted to each other for years, raised a child together and bought a house together are not family. It's not just that I disagree with their decision, I disagree with their ability to make that decision. Which is why I love the CA amendment- where you replace marriage with domestic partnership. And it could force national reform. How will the federal government handle it? Will all those straight unionized folks no longer get to claim spouses as deductions? Somehow I don't see people standing for that. And so if the federal government agree to call a domestic union the same as a marriage, then wouldn't they also do that for people in all the other state's with civil unions?
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Samprimary
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quote:
Olivet- I kinda agree with you. For me, the fact that the government has the power to say that 2 stranger who get drunk in Vegas are a family
Now, hold on. There's no need to make fun of my first three marriages to make your point.
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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
Bok-

Here's a Slate article written at the time of the California ruling (not Prop 8, Samp; I'm not sure what you're talking about) that explains why strict scrutiny (or the slightly watered down "heightened scrutiny" used by Iowa and, IIRC, Connecticut) is a significantly higher bar for laws to overcome.

Essentially, if a group characteristic (in this case sexual orientation) is deemed sufficient according to certain standards, then laws must meet a higher level of justification. In the MA case, the SJC ruled according to "rational basis," which indicated that a lower threshold of justifiability would be required for laws restricting gay marriage. The CA court asserted strict scrutiny protection for laws pertaining to homosexuals, setting the bar significantly higher. Which I believe was the precedent under which the law in Iowa (and Connecticut) was deemed unconstitutional.

Javert (sorry, this turned out to be quite long, and I don't have time to go back over and edit it; read at your own peril. Also the length virtually guarantees that I have made general statements that I wouldn't be able to back up if asked to, so YMMV)-

I have covered my feelings in other threads, and it usually leads me into highly contentious arguments, which leads to insomnia, which leads to me feeling that it's not worth it. So I will try to state my feelings, but I won't guarantee to engage in the discussion long term.

I believe that marriage is primarily a social construct and the definition of it should be left to civil society, rather than the state. I don't believe marriage is a "right" in a substantive sense. I do recognize the state's current interest in regulating (particularly promoting) marriage-like relationships. However, I believe the current marriage laws, even under a liberalized construction, are at odds with that interest.

Marriage exists external to the state; when the state organized, it chose to regulate marriage. I posit two possible reasons: 1) to prevent certain citizens from procreating or 2) to promote stable dyadic unions within the society. I personally believe it was primarily for the former, but over time, and particularly as our society has become more mobile, the latter interpretation has come to dominate. This is unfortunate, because the latter interest doesn't really relate to "marriage" but to what I think is more appropriately termed "domestic partnerships" which would include all forms to socially-stable dyadic unions, including many that remain excluded even under a liberalized definition of "marriage." Simultaneously, the state has moved fairly determinedly away from regulating reproduction, through refusing to legalize abortion, forgoing mandatory genetic testing, and implicitly or explicitly rejecting laws that would confine heterosexual intercourse to be within a marriage.

So, I feel the state has lost its interest in regulating marriage. What it still has an interest in is regulating domestic partnerships, a set of relationships which would include most if not all marriages.

The problem is in the conflation of the two different things. What I feel is needed is not a further incursion by the state into defining the social construct of marriage, but an unentangling of its interest in regulating reproduction from its interest in promoting socially stable dyadic unions. <edit>Particularly because the liberalized versions of "marriage" continue to exclude classes of domestic partnerships taht I feel should be promoted under the same auspices</edit>

I'm not institutionally opposed (although I am personally opposed) to extending the term "marriage" to include homosexual unions. What I do feel, though, is it should be carried out in churches and clubs, in businesses and bars, rather than legislatures and courtrooms. When (if) society is sufficiently comfortable with extending the construct, it will be established not through the force of the state, but as a natural outgrowth of the society. I generally feel that the use of state powers to compel the citizenry to accept a particular construct, to force public opinion through the threat of law, is dangerous and should be avoided.

Umm, I can posit a third reason, TAXABLE INCOME.
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Xaposert
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quote:
Secondly, this is one of those topics that makes me absolutely certain I don't see things the way most people do.

I don't get why people want the government defining their sacraments, or why secular rules can't just be the same for everyone regardless of gender, race, religion, or the size of their nose.

I've tried really hard to see the difference between this and the bans on interracial marriage that many states once had.

This may be because I don't really believe there is any significant difference between men and women, outside their obvious and enjoyable meat space differences.

I think you already hit on their reason in this quote: They don't want the government to redefine their sacraments for them. People are free to consider themselves married and act married, but that doesn't force others to consider them married. But when the government starts recognizing a given marriage, that to some extent forces everyone to recognize it.

I think most people are fine with the government defining sacraments, but only as long as it defines sacraments in the same way they do.

quote:
Without some form of federal intervention, this thing could drag on for many years. It is also worth noting that if Obama doesn't address the issue that could easily mean 8 years without a final word (and if he's succeeded by a Bush III, perhaps 16 years).
Obama really can't do much, though. He can't trump state constitutions. He opposes gay marriage but I don't think he's interested in trying to force that opinion on states, particularly when many fellow Democrats support gay marriage. He could try to broker a compromise, but I'm not sure either extreme would be happy with it, and I'm not sure what means he'd have to enforce it - short of a U.S. constitutional amendment.

So, I think it's going to have to be decided on a state-by-state level.

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