Friday, August 31

An Observation: Our Bipolar Society

This week it was possible to see what our society's bipolar behaviors have led us to. On the one hand, Iowa has seen the first same sex marriage because a judge was wise enough to see the illegality (and hypocrisy) of denying the right to the pursuit of happiness as expressed in the Iowa and U.S. Constitutions.

Polk County Judge, Robert Hanson, ruled that the state law allowing marriage only between a man and a woman violates the constitutional rights of due process and equal protection. "Couples, such as plaintiffs, who are otherwise qualified to marry one another may not be denied licenses to marry or certificates of marriage or in any other way prevented from entering into a civil marriage ... by reason of the fact that both person comprising such a couple are of the same sex," he said.

This ruling will be appealed to the State Supreme Court and already the Iowa House Minority Leader, Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City, has said the ruling illustrates the need for a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. "I can't believe this is happening in Iowa," Rants said. "I guarantee you there will be a vote on this issue come January."

On the other hand, Idaho Senator, Larry Craig, may likely lose his seat because of his alleged hypocrisy about his own sexuality (and, of course, breaking the law regarding solicitation of a sex act from an undercover male police officer and the moral issue of cheating on his wife). In this case, the call for his resignation is due not entirely by a sense of justice, but a sense of embarrassment by his party. It seems that you can't be the party of family-values unless you avoid such snafus, even if you have other closeted members among your ranks.

We are a nation dogged by our obsession with other people's sex lives. What two consenting adults do or don't do fuels the tabloids and percolates the talk around the water cooler at work. We are a voyeuristic nation to be sure.

Clearly there is are differing ideas about what marriage is (including faithfulness) and who should be allowed to participate in it. But given that above all other things, our Constitution provides for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, equal protection under the law, and due process, it is equally clear that civil marriage must be the right of all who chose it (with the same rights and responsibilities). Judge Hanson may have a tough row to hoe with some, but he truly put the law above conventional thinking.

The fear of a those, who don't believe marriage for all should be legal for religious or other reasons, is that somehow it will "taint" them to live among those who love differently but are owed the same rights as anyone else stems either intolerance or ignorance. Neither of these are above the law.

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