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Friday, January 21, 2011

Iowa to Revoke Marriage Equality?

By Tom Basgil -

First, Iowa same-gender couples couldn’t get married, then they could, and now the right might be taken away. I think I’m suffering from some Prop 8 déjà vu here.
Iowa Republicans are pushing a measure to revoke marriage rights from same-gender couples. Not only will marriage be off the table, civil unions and domestic partnerships will also not be recognized by the state. If this passes, Iowans would be able to vote on an anti-marriage constitutional amendment as early as 2013.
House Joint Resolution 6 states, “Marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state.” 56 of 60 House Republicans co-signed the bill. No Democrats signed the bill, but the GOP is the one running the House.
However, don’t panic. Two consecutive General Assemblies must pass the measure before it can go before voters. That means that this year’s and next year’s House would both have to approve the anti-marriage constitutional amendment. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat, has vowed to block a vote on the measure when it comes up to the Senate.
One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBT group, disseminated a press release on the amendment. “Marriage says ‘we’re a family’ like nothing else and is an important way we care for those we love. Writing discrimination into the Constitution will only divide us at a time when we need to work together to tackle common concerns,” said Executive Director Carolyn Jenison. Joblessness versus banning marriage? The ball’s in your court, legislators of Iowa. Thankfully, anti-equality groups have been largely silent on this amendment.
Once more, we find that anti-equality advocates are trying to revoke the freedom to marry. They’re on the wrong side of history but seem to be clueless about it. Will they have to wait until their grandkids question them about their homophobic actions before they get the hint?

Meanwhile  a ruling from Iowa -

A lawsuit that aimed to reduce the influence of attorneys in Iowa’s judicial process has been dismissed by a federal judge who labeled the case as “fatally flawed.”

An Indiana law firm known nationally for spearheading socially conservative causes filed the suit last month on behalf of four Iowans. The case specifically sought to bar attorneys elected to the State Judicial Nominating Commission through the Iowa State Bar Association from voting on potential replacements to three Iowa Supreme Court justices that were ousted by voters in November following a 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.
The ruling was immediately praised by state Attorney General Tom Miller, who had filed a motion requesting the dismissal.
“[U.S. District] Judge [Robert W.] Pratt very soundly upheld the will of the people of Iowa,” Miller said. “This is a significant ruling that affirms our right as Iowa citizens to choose how we select our Supreme Court justices.”
In the ruling, Pratt granted the state’s motion to dismiss, and wrote that the plaintiffs “may prefer that Iowa had a different method of judicial selection, but absent a violation of a clearly-established constitutional right, the people of Iowa are entitled to retain the judicial selection system they chose in 1962.”
Undoubtedly, the right to vote for political representatives is the bedrock of American democracy. In this case, however, Plaintiffs are asking the Court to radically expand the scope of this fundamental right beyond all existing precedent and to recognize an entirely new Fourteenth Amendment “right” to greater influence in the selection of judges. Their claims, therefore, are fatally flawed.
The case against the Iowa system was brought by the James Madison Center for Free Speech, an Indiana-based group affiliated with the Bopp, Coleson and Bostrom law firm. James Bopp Jr., a partner in the firm, is nationally known as a litigator for socially conservative causes and also a representative to the Republican National Committee, where he pushed the “purity test” and “Socialist” resolutions.

Memorandum Opinion & Order, 4:10-cv-00587 -


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