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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Recently, I mentioned being outside the Iowa Judicial Building in April 2009 when the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down a state ban on same-sex marriages. A celebration broke out as news of the landmark decision spread through the crowd.
Nearby, the purveyors of doom and gloom set up shop. They stood on the periphery in their Sunday suits ready to tell any journalist who would listen about how the ruling would bring ruin to civilization as we know it. A drearier bunch you’ll never see, these family leaders.
It was the end of traditional marriage, the death knell of the family unit and a green flag for polygamy and all manner of societal breakdowns. Real wrath of God type stuff.
But they were false prophets. None of that happened. The only real damage done was through their subsequent crusade to kick three good justices off the state Supreme Court.
You’d think they’d slink to the sidelines after being so embarrassingly mistaken. But they’re back, recharged by Iowa’s red state status. Not even Republicans are safe.
In their righteous eyes, Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst made a big mistake in voting to support the Respect for Marriage Act. The bill repeals the anti-equality Defense of Marriage Act and establishes marriage rights in federal law, in case the conservative U.S. Supreme Court ever set its sights on overturning them.
It doesn’t require states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but does mandate that states recognize licenses issued in other states. It also contains a series of exemptions for religious organizations which were added to draw enough Republican votes to clear the Senate.
It’s not a perfect bill. But Ernst was right to vote for it. Her political career has coincided with legal same-sex marriage in Iowa. She knows the status quo is no threat. Ernst once supported a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions. Now she votes in favor of protecting marriage rights. That’s called progress.
But not among Republican hard-liners in Iowa. Several county Republican central committees have voted recently to censure Ernst for taking that vote.
The Iowa Standard, a conservative web site, has been keeping track. So far, Ernst has been censured by Republicans in Des Moines, Mahaska, Pocahontas, Guthrie, Ida, Van Buren and Wright counties.
“There is nothing more foundational to our society than marriage as instituted by God between one biological man and one biological woman. Sen. Ernst directly opposes the expressed will of God and of her constituents and is hereby formally censured for her vote by the Pocahontas County Central Committee,” read the county’s resolution.
All of the resolutions cite a provision in the state Republican platform: “We believe that traditional two-parent (one male (XY) and one female (XX)), marriage-based families are the foundation to a stable, enduring, and healthy civilization. We encourage the repeal of any laws allowing any marriage that is not between one natural man and one natural woman.”
Ernst stands by her vote. Good for her. Polls have shown growing support for same-sex marriage in Iowa and across the country. Her vote is good policy and politics.
The real threat is coming from conservative crusaders, who keep sending the signal to their flocks that ant-LGBTQ bigotry is God’s will. It’s OK to hate, damn the consequences. They’re wrong, but that’s never stopped them before.
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