Patterico's Pontifications

8/31/2007

“I Can’t Believe this is Happening in Iowa”

Filed under: Court Decisions,General,Law — DRJ @ 5:30 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Thursday, August 30, a county judge ruled same-sex couples can wed in Iowa:

“A county judge struck down Iowa’s decade-old gay marriage ban as unconstitutional Thursday and ordered local officials to process marriage licenses for six gay couples. Gay couples from anywhere in Iowa could apply for a marriage license from Polk County under Judge Robert Hanson’s ruling.

Less than two hours after word of the ruling was publicized, two Des Moines men applied for a license, the first time the county had accepted a same-sex application. The approval process takes three days.”

Reaction to the ruling was mixed:

“I started to cry because we so badly want to be able to be protected if something happens to one of us,” [29-year-old bride David Curtis] Rethmeier said.

“I can’t believe this is happening in Iowa,” [House Minority Leader Christopher Rants] said. “I guarantee you there will be a vote on this issue come January,” when the Legislature convenes.

69 Responses to ““I Can’t Believe this is Happening in Iowa””

  1. “I started to cry because we so badly want to be able to be protected if something happens to one of us,” [29-year-old bride David Curtis] Rethmeier said.

    If it was truly about that, he could have had a power of attorney and a will completed.

    JD (0b8ce0)

  2. Gary Allen Seronko, 51, was listed as the groom on the form and David Curtis Rethmeier, 29, the bride.

    Apparently marriage is not the only word whose definition has expanded.

    aunursa (5571a7)

  3. If it was truly about that, he could have had a power of attorney and a will completed.

    In fact they would have already done that, along with living wills identifying each other as their medical proxies.

    Pablo (99243e)

  4. Living here in Iowa, the Democrat party will pay for this at the polls. They have been taxing, spending, and getting into people’s sensibilities this term. All the time they were trying to regain the majority, they were lying to the public. Well, those lies have been exposed now.

    PCD (193135)

  5. Just remember, even if you are in favor of civil unions, the Left will accuse you of being a bigot or a homophobe for not agreeing with them on same sex marriage, or simply for believing that Judge Hanson shows unmitigated arrogance and a disdain for the democratic process.

    JD (0b8ce0)

  6. HOMOPHOBES!

    JD (0b8ce0)

  7. Activist judges are tyrants. They negate the laws of the people and their representatives and legislate by fiat with no checks to their power.

    This is why we must have an amendment to the US Constitution. Laws and state amendments aren’t worth the paper on which they are written.

    And federalism is the refuge of scoundrels.

    logos (4ea297)

  8. Do you think I can marry my mother if I move to Iowa? How broad is the ruling?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  9. I’m laughing thinking back on the 2004 caucuses which turned out to be a huge debacle for Howard Dean because his campaign fundamentally failed to understand the nature of the Iowa democrat voter.

    They are cautious, traditional, and older than the average voter. Dean’s MoveOn types running around in orange nit caps only drove them into the arms of the safer and more conventional Kerry.

    This kind of decision will only drive them to the safer and more conventional GOP — especially a moderate like Guiliani or Thompson.

    Lets see what the Dem candidates have to say.

    wls (fb8809)

  10. How about “Full Faith & Credit” applied to CCW permits?

    Horatio (564fb8)

  11. This is the kind of stuff that is undermining people’s respect for the judiciary.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  12. I favor same-sex marriage but I can’t help a joke or two:

    I wonder how many of Iowa’s seventeen gays will take advantage of the judge’s ruling? The real danger is ahem … well … a lot of Iowans showing up at the courthouse with a cute heifer in tow. (I am so ashamed of myself).

    nk (a6ecc6)

  13. HOMOPHONES!

    No, weight…wrong thread.

    Insomniac (8899da)

  14. Do you think I can marry my mother if I move to Iowa? How broad is the ruling?

    Comment by daleyrocks — 8/31/2007 @ 6:47 am

    Only if you’re a dude and your mother is too…

    Insomniac (8899da)

  15. Being a federalist by disposition, I’m in favor of states deciding this based on state courts’ interpretations of state law, both statutory and constitutional.

    When it comes to fundamental, individual rights — as partly enumerated by the Bill of Rights — it’s obvious to me (if not always to the courts) that the Feds ought to be involved to protect those rights, where necessary.

    The right to keep and bear arms is one of those; if the right not to be offended by the thought of a same sex couple being able to get a marriage license is among it, I missed that part.

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  16. Can I marry my “… father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate”?

    Thank you Dark Helmet

    Horatio (564fb8)

  17. I think I’ll try marrying my Winchester. Let’s see what that dumb judge has to say about that.

    PCD (193135)

  18. Judge Robert Hanson of Polk County, Iowa struck down the state’s decade-old anti-gay marriage statute this morning, finding that it violated the state constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses.

    Gay couples across the state of Iowa are now free to apply for marriage licenses.

    While I was excited to learn of this ruling for gay equality, I fear it will be short lived. The Polk County attorney plans on appealing the ruling to the State Supreme Court, and he has already filed a stay to prevent gay couples from marrying until the appeal is resolved.

    What’s worse, Republican House Minority Leader Christopher Rants is already preparing an anti-gay marriage amendment to Iowa’s constitution.

    We saw how the 2003 Massachusetts ruling in favor of marriage equality ushered in backlash across the country, culminating in 27 state amendments denying the right of marriage to gays. I fear this Iowa ruling will have a similar effect, especially with election season upon us. This is why I’m generally against sweeping court decisions like this. I think an incremental steps toward equality such as the ones in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Washington, Virginia, and Michigan.

    I may be overly pessimistic–a lot has changed even in the five years since the Massachusetts ruling. In spite of all of the state wide amendments banning gay marriage, we have seen several states move in the opposite direction to provide the status of civil unions to gay couples (though still unequal).

    In addition, Rove (mastermind of the gay-baiting tactics to get out the conservative base) is gone. The ‘family values’ wing of the Republican party is awash with the sex scandals of Senators Craig and Vitter. And recent polling has indicated that social wedge issues like gay marriage and abortion may not have the pull they had in past, what with two failing wars in the Middle East and all.

    Either way, should be a very interesting case to follow, and certainly more to come on the Blitz.

    Elizabeth Schmitz (f56535)

  19. I think I’ll try marrying my Winchester.

    As long as it’s a pre-1964 Winchester, it’s ok

    Horatio (564fb8)

  20. The right to keep and bear arms is one of those; if the right not to be offended by the thought of a same sex couple being able to get a marriage license is among it, I missed that part.

    Joel – Where do you find the right for same sex marriage in the documents you profess to have read?

    JD (0b8ce0)

  21. Why shouldn’t gays be allowed to marry and be as miserable as the rest of us?

    Horatio (564fb8)

  22. This is why we must have an amendment to the US Constitution.

    Why does the federal constitution have to be amended to protect the states from their own courts? (This was the ruling of a state judge, not a federal judge.)

    Iowa doesn’t have a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Shouldn’t you try that first?

    Paul S. (8cbb16)

  23. JD:

    I don’t “profess” to have read them; I have read them, thank you very much.

    I’m not in favor of SSM because I think it’s in the US Constitution; I can’t find it there, as it isn’t. I’m in favor of it because, well, I’m pro-family.

    As to whether or not a reasonable interpretation of the Iowa state constitution forbids (or, for that matter, requires) discrimination against same sex couples who wish to marry, I don’t have an opinion, and not being an Iowan, I don’t get to vote on a possible referendum/Iowa constitutional amendment to decide the question.

    As a federalist by disposition, I’m comfortable in leaving the legal question up to the Iowa courts to handle as they see fit, and Iowans to modify or fail to modify their state Constitution as they see fit, even if they see fit to make what I think would be a wrong decision.

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  24. Joel – So long as you acknowledge that it is a privilege, and not a “right”, I am cool with that.

    With most issues, I agree that issues are best left to the States to decide. However, with the Full Faith & Credit laws, we are already seeing Court cases where people that were married in Mass and San Fran are now seeking spousal benefits in jurisdictions that have specifically voted against this concept. So, I am not sure that the concept of Federalism will hold up once these start popping up in more and more places.

    JD (0b8ce0)

  25. I would say that if a state has amended it’s constitution to ban SSMs, then Full Faith and Credit is null and void. Only if the US Constitutions is ammended to ALLOW SSM would they then have a case.

    Scott Jacobs (c0db90)

  26. The same-sex marriage licenses issued in San Fran are illegal, being in violation of California law, and thus null and void.

    Massachusetts is another matter, imposed by the state supreme court, with the state legislature keeping a state constitutional amendment off the ballot, so far.

    This is why there have been efforts to pass a protection of marriage Amendment, though I’d prefer a revision of the Full Faith & Credit Clause myself. Fix the mechanism for all future issues, before we have another Dredd Scott case.

    LarryD (feb78b)

  27. I am not a Constitutional lawyer, but I believe the US Constitution overrides State constitutions. Hence no State could re-institute slavery, for example.

    The US Constitution is silent on the nature or marriage, so it can’t be construed as prohibiting SSM.

    LarryD (feb78b)

  28. Joel Rosenberg: I’m in favor of it because, well, I’m pro-family.

    Define “family.”

    L.N. Smithee (a90bc5)

  29. There are very good arguments under existing Supreme court precedent that the Full Faith and Credit clause will not require a state that has a clear policy against same sex marriage from recognizing such a marriage from another state. Congress has the ability to specify the treatment of such questions under the Constitution.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  30. Thinking that something is wrong or unnatural does not equate having a fear of it. In other words, just because someone thinks that homosexuality or same-sex marriage is WRONG does not make them a homophobe.

    Xanadu (e33014)

  31. JD — I’m making no such special-pleading acknowledgment; the Bill of Rights’ list of enumerated rates is inclusive, not exclusive.

    That said, the right to marry is not one of those enumerated rights, so perhaps all marriage can be considered a “privilege.” Different strokes from different folks — there was one country I’m rather fond of where my last-but-one girlfriend and I couldn’t have legally married (we never wanted to, so it wasn’t an issue), despite both of us being single, eligible for marriage, and utterly unrelated to each other.

    LN: Nope. Families define themselves, and society (including you and I) get to play catch-up.

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  32. Horatio,

    It is a modified post 1964 Winchester. I took out that “saftey” stud thing that didn’t work well and caused me to have a death grip on the lever to fire the damned thing.

    Otherwise is it a .30-30, not a .375.

    PCD (193135)

  33. Xanadu,

    Try disagreeing with a Liberal, and you’ll see the limits of your argument.

    Scott Jacobs (c0db90)

  34. It is a modified post 1964 Winchester. I took out that “saftey” stud thing that didn’t work well and caused me to have a death grip on the lever to fire the damned thing.

    Otherwise is it a .30-30, not a .375.

    Enjoy
    Time to visit the range and sight in the scope on my .257 Weatherby Magnum. Talk about reaching out and touching something

    Horatio (564fb8)

  35. Let’s review:

    Joel Rosenberg: I’m in favor of [same-sex marriage] because, well, I’m pro-family.

    L.N. Smithee: Define “family.”

    Joel Rosenberg: Nope. Families define themselves, and society (including you and I) get to play catch-up.

    You describe yourself as “pro-family,” but you won’t explain what a family is to you. I have to hand it to you — you sure have done a breakneck turnaround, discussing Federalism vis-a-vis the Bill of Rights and then, your amorphous, touchy-feely Oprahic philosophy of what a family is.

    Here’s a hypothetical: If a biological father, mother, and children marry, produce children, and repeat, do you think the laws of society should leave them alone, and instead play “catch up” by accommodating them?

    Don’t laugh — thirty years ago, people laughed at the idea of forcing government to marry people of the same sex.

    L.N. Smithee (f00bfe)

  36. I’m in favor of states allowing same-sex marriage — but only if this is done by the legislature, not by the judiciary. Once again the judges have overstepped.

    Tim K (7e41e8)

  37. Judge Hanson has stayed his ruling but one couple managed to get married anyway:

    “Less than 24 hours after starting the marriage stampede, Judge Robert Hanson of the Polk County District Court issued a stay to his own ruling that had said Iowa’s law restricting marriage to a man and a woman was unconstitutional. On Friday Hanson ordered that no more marriage licenses be issued to gay couples at the request of a county prosecutor who wanted a halt until Iowa’s Supreme Court can rule on the prosecutor’s appeal.

    But two Iowa State University students, Sean Fritz, 24, and Tim McQuillan, 21, beat the judge’s stay and got their license, with a waiver bypassing the usual three-day waiting period. Then they rushed off and found a Unitarian minister to unite them in a brief ceremony in the front yard of his Des Moines home. It was unclear immediately how the stay would affect their marriage and other couples who managed to submit their marriage license applications.”

    I would be quite unhappy if my college student son got married on such short notice, no matter who he married. Whatever happened to blood tests and pre-marital counseling, or was that just a 70’s thing?

    DRJ (bfe07e)

  38. This is a gift on a silver platter to the republican presidential candiates.

    Marty (df48c0)

  39. i voted against oregon’s gay marriage ban. the christers sent me a ton of mail before the election, many pictures of dewy young (heterosexual) families on picnic blankets asserting that their marriages, their families were somehow threatened by gay marriage. i am at a total loss to understand how a traditional marriage could be threatened by a gay marriage.

    assistant devil's advocate (0cf0a5)

  40. You describe yourself as “pro-family,” but you won’t explain what a family is to you.

    Correctamundo. I don’t think the definition game is useful. To paraphrase a very wise man, though, I know it when I see it.

    As to what romantic and/or living arrangements consenting adults make among themselves, I find myself fascinated by the variety that appear to work and don’t work, skeptical of the ability of society to prevent the bad ones from happening, and more skeptical of arguments that seem to imply that if gays are allowed to marry, my wife and I will have to split and, respectively, take up with another woman and another man, or that the sky will otherwise fall.

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  41. If the ban against same sex marriages is unconstitutional, then the ban on polygamy and siblings getting married is also unconstitutional.

    Either the states can regulate marriages, or they can’t.

    Personally, don’t think it’s the states business, but that’s a discussion for another time.

    Gerald A (39d0b6)

  42. I must agree with ADA – I have never been able to fathom how some feel threatened by marriage between homosexuals.

    If we use some typical numbers regarding homsexuality per capita, less than %5 of the population is gay. If we then assume that the percentage of that population which desires to be married is similar to the heterosexual population (let’s say %50 as a SWAG), that leaves us with less the %2.5 of all marriage ceremonies being performed amongst homosexuals.

    This is a trivial number – just how does this pose an existential threat to marriage? Easy answer – it does not. It is an easy target for typically craven politicians feeding vocal constituents red meat.

    If the politicos were truely serious about “saving marriage” in a way that would actually have impact, it is within their power. Simply do-away with all benefits to the cohabiting parner of a federal employee or entitlement recipient.

    But that would be hard, and doesn’t feed the anger and fear that politicians bend so nicely to their disposal in the way that nannering-on about the gays seems to.

    JSinAZ (9e2136)

  43. If the ban against same sex marriages is unconstitutional, then the ban on polygamy and siblings getting married is also unconstitutional.

    Bingo!

    LarryD (feb78b)

  44. Marriage is entirely the state’s business as I have pointed out on numerous occasions.

    “Conservatives” don’t understand marriage.

    But then they don’t understand much of anything else either.

    David Ehrenstein (39606e)

  45. If the ban against same sex marriages is unconstitutional, then the ban on polygamy and siblings getting married is also unconstitutional.

    If so, so what, as long as nobody makes you take on a third husband or marry your sister or whatever?

    That said, it’s pretty clear that you haven’t read the Iowa opinion — it’s very well-written, and deals with only the issues before the Court. (In style, it reads kind of like Kozinski on a medium day.)

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  46. And the idea of siblings or whole mobs of people being married affects your marriage how, exactly?

    The answer must be some variant of “I don’t like it and you shouldn’t be allowed to do that.”

    Seriously, though – eugenics is one non-subjective reason for bans on marriage between related parties. But given how little social stigmatization is associated with bastardy anymore, I can’t imagine this has a big impact on inbreeding problems.

    JSinAZ (9e2136)

  47. Civil unions aren’t a solution, the activists won’t settle for just that.

    Why Civil Unions aren’t enough

    Why aren’t Civil Unions enough?

    LarryD (feb78b)

  48. No, they won’t, and it’s not just the activists, either. They are, however (IMHO and all that) a good step forward in the state recognizing living and contractual arrangements between adults without getting the government involved in deciding what is and isn’t a religious sacrament (term used loosely).

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  49. Remember when America was a democracy? Before judges ruled the country? Good times.

    Kevin (4890ef)

  50. Joel, I didn’t find the Iowa opinion all that convincing. It was a rehash of old arguments that failed before, and fail again.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  51. Remember when America was a democracy? Before judges ruled the country? Good times.

    Personally? No, and I am rapidly approaching fifty. How old are you such that you do remember?

    JSinAZ (9e2136)

  52. Over at Volokh, Dale Carpenter looks more closely at the trial court’s opinion and finds it lacking.

    DRJ (bfe07e)

  53. Democrats forgot how to use brains. Hillary is trying to be on the center and Obama attends church to display “faith” — as always Dem’s are farting in their own bedroom. The Christians will say their word at the election.

    rightobserver (90a2ad)

  54. there may be a compelling state interest in preventing siblings from marrying, after all, we don’t need any more inbred drooling morons in those red southern states than we have now.

    a “one spouse at a time” rule looks good to ward off polygamy and doesn’t seem to offend equal protection. these concerns look more like irrelevant distractions.

    assistant devil's advocate (7095ac)

  55. I couldn’t agree more, ADA. After all, there are more than enough drooling morons in the blue northern states to last this country a lifetime.

    DRJ (bfe07e)

  56. I don’t agree that they are “distractions”, ADA. The same kind of arguments made in support of same-sex marriage do indeed have the same pursuasive value in arguing against restrictions against polygamy.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  57. Joel Rosenberg: I don’t think the definition game is useful.

    I’m not playing a “game.” If either of us is playing a “game,” it’s not me. You are the one that wrote you favor same-sex marriage saying “I’m pro-family” but then said actually defining the family you are pro- a “game,” saying it’s not “useful.” Well, on this point, I totally agree. It’s not a “useful” way to bolster a shallow argument.

    To paraphrase a very wise man, though, I know it when I see it.

    The “wise man” you paraphrase is Potter Stewart, the Supreme Court Justice who wrote in his concurring opinion in a 1964 obscenity case (Jacobellis v. Ohio) the following:

    I have reached the conclusion…that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

    The motion picture in question was a 1958 French film called The Lovers, directed by the late Louis Malle. Nobody could credibly describe a Malle film as “hard-core porn,” not even his semiautobiographical film Murmur of the Heart, in which the 15-year-old protagonist has intercourse with his mother. But what Stewart recognized that you don’t seem to is that there is such a thing as societal standards of appropriate behavior.

    If we are to take Stewart at his word, he didn’t define obscenity in his opinion because The Lovers didn’t give him the opportunity. But had something that fit the definition of hard-core porn been shown in the Justices’ chamber, he indeed would have upheld a conviction of the theater owner. In other words, he conceded limits to what could be shown weren’t in themselves un-Constitutional.

    In my last response to you, I provided an extreme hypothetical situation to see whether or not you would concede there should be societal limits to “family” activity in the eyes of the law. IMHO, the fact my question went untouched speaks volumes.

    L.N. Smithee (e7ec7f)

  58. Joel, I read it. Same “living document” arguement though the word he used was fluid.

    So your position is the state can ban certain marriages, as long as you agree with it, and it’ unconstitutional if you don’t.

    Gerald A (39d0b6)

  59. Gerald A: nope. How long have you thought that you can effectively attack somebody’s position by characterizing it inaccurately?

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  60. Heres another imperial judge who should get booted of the bench we dont need these jerks running our nation we elect presidents not judges to do that

    krazy kagu (3e8790)

  61. I can believe it’s happening in Iowa. Justice is justice. I’m sure there are plenty of people in Iowa who understand exactly what equality before the law means.

    peter jackson (ba4cf3)

  62. there may be a compelling state interest in preventing siblings from marrying, after all, we don’t need any more inbred drooling morons in those red southern states than we have now.

    This from the drool-free non-idiot who is so damned brilliant that even after all these years, he still can’t find the shift key on his computer. Besides, if procreation really is as irrelevant to marriage as SSM advocates insist it is, why not allow siblings to marry as long as at least one partner agrees to be sterilized? You don’t have to answer ‘cuz I already know the answer: it’s “yuck,” exactly the same answer most straights have to almost all homosexual acts (the sole exception being a straight male’s reaction to sexual acts between chicks who don’t look like Janet Reno).

    a “one spouse at a time” rule looks good to ward off polygamy and doesn’t seem to offend equal protection. these concerns look more like irrelevant distractions.

    It’s only “irrelevant” to one who assumes from the outset that warding off homosexuality is unfathomable bigotry while warding off polygamy is not. Tell that to a polygamist.

    Xrlq (22a88b)

  63. Since the judiciary feels no compunction about invading the realm of the legislative wuithout shame or remorse I think its a good idea to start hanging judges to encourage the rest about their limitations.

    I’d extend the practice to lawyers who actually take cases which are without merit or serve as nuisances.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  64. Since the judiciary feels no compunction about invading the realm of the legislative wuithout shame or remorse I think its a good idea to start hanging judges to encourage the rest about their limitations.

    I’d extend the practice to lawyers who actually take cases which are without merit or serve as nuisances.

    Comment by Thomas Jackson — 9/1/2007 @ 2:04 pm

    Way to qualify yourself as a nutbar.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  65. I love how quickly “small government” conservatives embrace antifederalist proposals when things turn to specific flavors of morality.

    I readily admit that I’m an athiest, libertarian free-marketeer, so Republicans can feel free to ignore me. My take is more stable, family oriented households, regardless of gender, is a good thing. (And I’m still single at 34.) But then, I don’t get my nickers in a twist about what the Joneses down the street are doing in their bedroom.

    And can we cut the silly slippery-slope arguments about marrying box turtles? Small hint: in the US, animals are not considered sapient. People are. Thus, a rather large gulf between the two has been legally established. Please feel free to come back with that argument when dolphins have been given the right to vote.

    fishbane (1f95eb)

  66. Xrlq — are you of the opinion that legal bars to SSM somehow wards off homosexuality? In what sense?

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  67. No, but then again, if laws against polygamy didn’t carry criminal sanctions, and their sole effect was to nullify all but one of the purported marriages, I don’t think that would do much to ward off polygamy, either. I was addressing the goals of the two policies vis a vis equal protection, not speculating as to how effective either is in actually achieving its respective goals.

    Xrlq (6c2116)

  68. Fair enough. We really don’t have laws against polygamy — we have laws that punish being quasi-de-jure married to one person at one time, but I — and presumably you; it’s not uncommon — do know people who live openly, more or less, polygamous lives, who avoid running into those sanctions simply because they’ve coded around de jure marriage. Not my cuppa, but as a dominatrix of my non-professional acquaintance says, “different strokes for different folks.”

    (As to warding off homosexuality, on the rare occasions that I’ve found it necessary, “No, thanks; I’m straight” has worked 100% of the time.)

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  69. That should, of course have been “married to MORE THAN one person at a time.”

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)


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