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April 07, 2009

Marriage Roundup

Last week the Iowa Supreme Court decided that civil marriage must be available for gay couples as well as straight. Here's what people are saying.

Robert Stacy McCain argues that marriage is important enough that conservatives should put their foot down and say "No further." A taste:

We know, however, that their latest demand is never their last demand. Grant the radicals everything they demand today, and tomorrow they will return with new demands that they insist are urgently necessary to satisfy the requirements of social justice.

When they refer to themselves as "progressives," radicals express their own basic truth: Their method of operation is always to move steadily forward, seeking a progressive series of victories, each new gain exploited to lay the groundwork for the next advance, as the opposition progressively yields terrain. Such is the remorseless aggression of radicalism that conservatives forever find themselves contemplating the latest "progressive" demand and asking, "Is this a hill worth dying on?"

Then, putting McCain's observations in a more specific light, Eugene Volokh discusses marriage in the context of the slippery slope. He points out that the Iowa Supreme Court used the creation of limited legal protections on the basis of sexual orientation, e.g. in the areas of employment, housing, and education, to support the claim that the right to marry should be seen as encompassing same-sex marriage. In other words, because the legislature prohibited discrimination in some circumstances, the judiciary felt justified in prohibiting discrimination in other circumstances.

On that note, conservatives in Iowa will likely have some difficulty overturning the ruling because amending the Iowa Constitution is more difficult than in most states. It takes a majority vote of two consecutive sessions of the state legislature to put the issue on a general election ballot. The earliest it could be in front of voters then, assuming conservatives take back the legislature, is 2012. The other method is a vote next year to hold a constitutional convention, which would put the question to voters at the earliest in 2011.

Finally, over at FiveThirtyEight, Lefty statistician Nate Silver has created a model to predict when voters in each state would vote against a marriage ban. This one really has to be seen to be believed, so click over and take a look.

In related news: Vermont has become the second state where the legislature has passed a gay marriage bill only to have it vetoed by the Republican Governor. (California's done it twice.) Today it goes back to the state House and Senate for override votes. The Senate is expected to have no problem overruling the veto. However, at last count the House was five votes short of an override.


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