Iowa victory should inspire states like Michigan

By |2018-01-16T17:34:49-05:00April 9th, 2009|Uncategorized|

Jaws dropped when it was announced that Proposition 8 might pass – and then did pass – in California, reversing the court order allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state.
And on Friday, they dropped once again.
Before Friday, Iowa was, in the minds of many in the LGBT community, just some Midwestern state they drove through or flew over to get to more liberal states, like California. But after a unanimous decision by the state Supreme Court, they became the third state in the nation to call for marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Take that, Sunshine State.
Though the victory in Vermont on Tuesday to override a veto of same-sex marriages by the state’s governor was certainly something to celebrate, and though it is not the first state to legalize same-sex marriages, Iowa is special for several reasons.
The first was already mentioned: Iowa? Seriously – Iowa?
The Midwest, Michigan included, is not exactly considered to be a model for the future of LGBT equality.
The victory in Iowa – and a unanimous one at that – shows that we don’t have to wait for liberal states to win equality first. It’s a lesson we in Michigan’s LGBT community could all stand to pay attention to. While some in our state are biding their time and waiting for equality to trickle down to us, Iowa has taken the lead. While our state’s political structure is obviously not the same, the juxtaposing win in Iowa and (possible) loss in California shows that being a “liberal” state isn’t all it takes to win equality.
The other thing that helps: judicial intervention. Iowa’s other unique point is that it is the first state have a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage that has come from the courts. Perhaps that’s the way it should be. The statement from Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and House Speaker Pat Murphy was just the icing on the cake: “When all is said and done, the only lasting question about today’s events will be why it took us so long.”
The statement was moving, and we can only hope that the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision will not weigh lightly on the minds of the judges of the California Supreme Court, who are expected to make a decision on Proposition 8 by June.
Though this victory hits closer to home for many LGBT people in Michigan, it reminds us how much work we still have to do in our own state to reach the same point. But you’d be hard pressed to find someone working for LGBT equality in Michigan who isn’t inspired by the Iowa decision.
It wasn’t convoluted or won on a technicality. It wasn’t a split decision. It was a simple matter of equal rights, and every member of the Iowa Supreme Court saw that.
Even more amazing was the lack of fanfare over the decision. It reached news outlets everywhere, covered Facebook pages and incited cheers across the U.S. But ultimately, Iowa’s victory was a quiet one – a chipping away of the prejudices that once pervaded our nation. It doesn’t seem so long ago that many states were voting in droves to assure that gays and lesbians would not be able to marry.
But after the past week, it doesn’t seem so long from now that equality will win out.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.