Friday, April 03, 2009

Activist court in Iowa dooms marriage

ABC News, April 3, 1949:

A Republican congressman from Iowa warned Friday that the state could turn into "the miscegenation Mecca" if the state legislature does not begin restricting marriage licenses to in-state residents.

The statement from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, which followed the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous ruling striking down a state ban on cross-race marriage, underscored the emotional power the issue holds for social conservatives in the state, which will hold the GOP's first presidential nominating contest in 2012.

Iowa is now the third state where Negro and white mixed-race couples are permitted to marry. The other two are Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Conservatives like King are pushing for a state constitutional amendment banning mixed marriage.

"It is the Iowa legislature's responsibility to pass the Marriage Amendment to the Iowa Constitution, clarifying that marriage is between one man and one woman of the same race, to give the power that the Supreme Court has arrogated to itself back to the people of Iowa," said King.

Given that Iowa is the state which kicks off the presidential contest, several Republicans who are eyeing a White House run in 2012 criticized the ruling and reaffirmed their opposition to mixed-race marriage.

"I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman of the same race and the definition of marriage should be left to the people and not to activist courts," former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., said in a written statement provided to ABC News.

The governor of South Carolina -- Republican Mark Sanford -- also criticized the ruling and touted his support for a constitutional ban on mixed-race marriage in his state.

"The governor supported a constitutional amendment here banning mixed-race unions. That position still holds," Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer told ABC News. "He's not the governor of Iowa, but he's against mixed-race marriages."

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who supports civil unions for mixed-race couples, reacted to the Iowa decision by reiterating his support for restricting marriage to same-race couples. In 2004, Huntsman successfully backed a constitutional amendment banning mixed-race marriage.

"He believes all people should have equal rights," Huntsman spokeswoman Lisa Roskelley told ABC News. "But when it comes to marriage, Gov. Huntsman believes that should be reserved for a man and a woman of the same race."

Asked if he favors the passage of a constitutional amendment in Iowa, Roskelley said, "He would leave that up to Iowa and trust that they would address that appropriately within their state."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses, called the decision "disappointing." "All Iowans should have a say in this matter, not a handful of legislative judges," said Huckabee in a written statement. "This issue is too important to not be made by the people of Iowa. It is my hope that the legislature will take the necessary steps to properly resolve this matter."

Erin Isaac, a spokesperson for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, said, "[The governor] supports civil unions but believes that marriage is for a man and a woman of the same race."

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty also spoke out against the Iowa ruling.

"Gov. Pawlenty disagrees with the Iowa Supreme Court decision and believes that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman of the same race," said Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung.

An aide to another potential Republican presidential candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, played down the decision's relevance to his state.

"Does it include Louisiana?" asked Jindal spokeswoman Melissa Sellers.

Pam Pryor, a spokeswoman for Sarah Palin, told ABC News that the Alaska governor would not comment on the Iowa marriage ruling even though she is an ardent opponent of mixed-race marriage.

Despite losing in court on Friday, social conservatives are hoping that they will prevail by amending the state constitution.

"Mixed-race 'marriage' continues to be a movement driven by a liberal judicial elite determined to destroy not only the institution of marriage, but democracy as well," said Tony Perkins, the president of the Washington-based Family Research Council. "The casual dismissal of the facts of human biology and thousands of years of human history, simply to pander to a small band of social radicals, is bizarre and indefensible."

While mixed-race marriage opponents are hoping that Iowa will follow California in overturning a decision of its state Supreme Court, supporters of mixed-race marriage are emboldened by the fact that it is considerably more difficult to amend the state constitution in Iowa than it is in California.

"The Iowa Constitution can't be changed quickly," said state Sen. Matt McCoy, Iowa's first openly gay state lawmaker, in a YouTube video released Friday.

A state constitutional ban on mixed-race marriage would need to be approved by two consecutive legislative sessions, the 2009-10 session and the 2011-12 session, before going to the voters in a general-election referendum, according to the Iowa Secretary of State's office.

This means that the earliest Iowa voters could weigh in on this issue would be in November 2011: smack-dab in the middle of the Republican Party's 2012 nomination fight.

Original article: ABC News, April 3, 2009. It's only coincidence that, with very few modifications, it could have been written in 1949 about marriages between blacks and whites -- something which was illegal in most states until Loving v. Virginia overturned state miscegenation laws in 1967.

-- Badtux the Civil Rights Penguin


  1. We shouldn't just stop with letting the members of society approve of marriages between blacks and whites -- I mean, men and dogs -- no, wait! -- between people who are afflicted by Teh Gay. I think the people of a state should be allowed to vote on EVERYONE'S marriage!

    How many times have you seen someone about to get hitched and said to yourself "She's too fat! You'll be sick of her after she pops out a few kids." or "He's an abusive arsehole! You'll be in the police station and divorce court before the decade's out." The best way to reduce the divorce rate would be citizen involvement

    I propose that everyone in a state should be allowed a vote on everyone's marriage. To avoid confusion, we could take it to the community level, with weekly votes on marriage licences at local courthouses. Participation might not be overwhelming, but the people most concerned -- especially family friends, jilted lovers and hate-filled losers with nothing else to do every day -- would be the best arbiters. It's taking Rep. KKKing's idea to its logical end...

  2. As always, the Rethuglicans are against anything that is both progressive and Constitutional, and yet they consider themselves the only defenders of the Constitution. Which everyone with even half a brain knows is a lie after the last eight years of Rethuglican attempts to destroy the same Constitution.

  3. Who was it that said " The Sky is Falling , The Sky is Falling " .
    F'in discrimination is what I see , no matter what the predicted outcome of removing such discrimination , IT Must be removed or a part of our country is visibly not free . Who cares about pay , health , etc. at least let the gays be as miserable as the rest of us " straight " married folk .
    I'm with Bukko , I've seen too many inbred redneck chrstianist blank staring chinless drooling "litters" . Time to controll their coupling for the sake of the geene pool if anyone needs discriminating !
    a concerned w3ski

  4. Excellent piece! Very clever and insightful! Thanks. I have copied it to my blog!

  5. Puleeeze allow me a vote on who the republicans can marry... PUHHLEEEZE!!!!!!! ill give you my firstborn! ( I want Prima Nochta too!!!!)


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