116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Today's print column
It's decision time for many of us who live in Senate District 18. Those of us who vote old-school on Election Day, that is.
It's a tough choice. Republican Cindy Golding is cstrongest on business and economic issues at a time when they're very important. She's run multiple businesses and understands those challenges. I appreciate that she's had to meet a payroll, and has followed business and tax issues at the Statehouse for years.
Democrat Liz Mathis seems to have a better grasp of education issues at a time when sweeping school reform is on the Legislative agenda. She's recognizes and understands the education big picture, like the connection between quality, available preschool and improved elementary reading. She also appears knowledgeable on human services issues, mental health, etc.
So on two top issues, to me, it's largely a draw.
And, I know, I'm not supposed to care about it, according to both candidates, but the marriage issue is important to me. I'm no single-issue voter, but in a tight contest, a single issue could tip the scales.
Mathis says the Iowa Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages is “constitutionally sound.” When I asked her how the ruling changed Iowa, though, she didn't have much positive to say about this landmark civil rights victory.
Golding says Iowans should get to vote on a constitutional amendment banning gay unions. Her election would bring that vote one step closer by erasing a narrow Democrat majority.
Golding says a statewide vote would take the “spotlight” off Iowa and end the debate once and for all. When I asked her how the ruling changed Iowa, she curiously mentioned “troubling” scholarships for gay and lesbian high school students.
I was initially critical of Mathis' reluctance to say the ruling was a good thing. But a reader pointed out to me that of the 28 Linn County precincts that voted to toss out three Supreme Court Justices last fall, 22 are in District 18. Perhaps Mathis deserves more credit than I gave her for defending the ruling.
Golding deserves no credit for her stand. It would be wrong to put Iowans' hard-won civil rights to a vote simply to turn off a spotlight or change an uncomfortable subject. And it's groups supporting Golding, including the Family Leader and National Organization for Marriage, that keep that spotlight burning bright. She should tell them to turn it off.
And civil rights debates simply don't end once and for all.
Unlike taxes and education, which likely will be decided in negotiations far above Golding or Mathis' legislative pay grade, this is an issue of individual conscience. Does Iowa's Constitution protect all of us, or just some of us? Is equal protection a sacred contract or a popularity contest? Not important? I disagree. This is about more than a marriage license.
It's the sort of issue that Mary Lundby wouldn't shy away from when she represented this district. And Golding's stand does not pass the Mary Lundby test.