Friday, April 3

Steve King and Tom Harkin: Strange Bedfellows

Clearly in the camp of not trusting the Iowa Constitution's equal protection clause, Iowa Rep. Steve King condemned the Iowa Supreme Court's Friday decision to lift a decade-long ban on same-sex marriage, saying it puts the state in danger of becoming a "gay marriage Mecca." While both insulting to Muslms and the GLBT community in making this bizarro comparison, he also insults the intelligence of many Iowans who do believe in equality.

"This is an unconstitutional ruling and another example of activist judges molding the Constitution to achieve their personal political ends," King said in statement. "Iowa law says that marriage is between one man and one woman."

Showing that bipartisanship can create strange bedfellows, Senator Tom Harkin with his disclaimer in making a statement about the Iowa high court's ruling strikes me as weak-kneed (though not as blatently dismissive of the court's ruling certainly as Rep. King). Said Sen. Harkin, “My personal view has been that marriage is between a man and a woman, and I have voted in support of that concept." It seems like an attempt to distance himself from a key group of his constituency at a time when he should be celebrating a win for their civil rights.

To his credit he does continue to say "I also fundamentally believe that same sex couples in a civil union should be entitled to all the basic legal protections and benefits of marriage. The Court found that it is necessary to afford same sex couples the ability to marry in order to allow them those legal protections and benefits. I will respect and support that decision and I hope that other Iowans can do the same." For a senator who has generally been supportive of justice and protection of rights, his equivocation does not sit well with me.

In any case, I'm sure many Iowans will support the conflicted views these elected officials hold. As Harkin himself said, "I know that this decision will be very hard for many to accept but I also know that it will provide many committed same sex couples and families important rights, as well as an important sense of recognition and belonging.” As for me, I am equally sure that many more folks here will live and let live--as this is first and foremost, the Iowa way.

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