The Iowa Gay Marriage Decision

There is more commentary today on yesterday’s historic ruling.

The Anonymous Liberal takes on Rod Dreher, who laments over breakfast with friends that it will no longer be possible to be a “public Christian”:

Reacting to the Iowa gay marriage ruling today, Rod Dreher writes:

This morning, I had breakfast with some guys, including a lawyer. We weren’t aware of this decision, but we talked about this issue. The lawyer said that as soon as homosexuality receives constitutionally protected status equivalent to race, then “it will be very hard to be a public Christian.” By which he meant to voice support, no matter how muted, for traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality and marriage. To do so would be to set yourself up for hostile work environment challenges, including dismissal from your job, and generally all the legal sanctions that now apply to people who openly express racist views.

That world got a little bit closer this morning. And most people don’t even see it.

I realize [it’s] often hard to appreciate how your words will come across to those who don’t share your beliefs, but good grief, is it possible to be more oblivious? Dreher is lamenting the fact that as the law progresses toward recognizing the rights of homosexual people, it will become increasingly hard to be publicly intolerant of homosexuality. Dreher thinks it’s getting hard to be a “public Christian” in this country.

Yeah, it’s pretty rough being a Christian in America. Maybe Dreher should try being a “public homosexual” for a while and compare the experience. If I had a Quantum Leap machine, I’d be tempted to zap Dreher into the life of a gay high school student or maybe a gay man in a small Southern town and see how easy he finds it to publicly be himself. I wonder if Dreyer has any clue how much harder that would be than anything he’s ever had to deal with as a straight white christian male.

Nate Silver has an interesting post about the relationship between three demographic variables present in states that have tried to pass gay marriage bans.

I looked at the 30 instances in which a state has attempted to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage by voter initiative. The list includes Arizona twice, which voted on different versions of such an amendment in 2006 and 2008, and excludes Hawaii, which voted to permit the legislature to ban gay marriage but did not actually alter the state’s constitution. I then built a regression model that looked at a series of political and demographic variables in each of these states and attempted to predict the percentage of the vote that the marriage ban would receive.

It turns out that you can build a very effective model by including just three variables:

1. The year in which the amendment was voted upon;
2. The percentage of adults in 2008 Gallup tracking surveys who said that religion was an important part of their daily lives;
3. The percentage of white evangelicals in the state.

These variables collectively account for about three-quarters of the variance in the performance of marriage bans in different states. The model predicts, for example, that a marriage ban in California in 2008 would have passed with 52.1 percent of the vote, almost exactly the fraction actually received by Proposition 8.

Unsurprisingly, there is a very strong correspondence between the religiosity of a state and its propensity to ban gay marriage, with a particular “bonus” effect depending on the number of white evangelicals in the state.

Marriage bans, however, are losing ground at a rate of slightly less than 2 points per year. So, for example, we’d project that a state in which a marriage ban passed with 60 percent of the vote last year would only have 58 percent of its voters approve the ban this year.

All of the other variables that I looked at — race, education levels, party registration, etc. — either did not appear to matter at all, or became redundant once we accounted for religiosity. Nor does it appear to make a significant difference whether the ban affected marriage only, or both marriage and civil unions.

E.D. Kain makes a similar point to the one I made in my post yesterday, at The Moderate Voice, about Ed Whelan’s post at The Corner, in which he wrote, regarding the Iowa decision, “The lawless judicial attack on traditional marriage and on representative government continues.” In response, I wrote:

Ed Whelan is confusing the inequality with the changing standard of what constitutes inequality. Laws banning same-sex marriage are the response to changing standards on the part of people who want to cling to the old standards. Why would there even be this growing movement for marriage equality if the standard were not changing? Why would state laws defining marriage as exclusively heterosexual, and calls to amend state constitutions to so define marriage be considered necessary by folks like Ed Whelan, in the absence of a tangible public awareness that same-sex attraction and love is a real and normal and legitimate variant of human sexuality, and thus that gay and lesbian people should have the same right to marry as anyone else? That’s the evolving standard. Ed Whelan is part of the opposition to that evolving standard.

And here is E.D. Kain:

Quite honestly, I have difficulty following this logic.  First of all, the court was taking into account the constitutionality of the ban on gay marriage in the first place, and quite rightly found that it was not, in fact, constitutional.  Revoking the ban is not activism; it is a reaction to activism.

I have often wondered why it is that the two aspects of human existence that are least mentioned or discussed in the Bible — reproductive decisions (contraception and abortion being two of the biggies) and homosexuality — are the two issues that religious fundamentalists most often condemn for specifically biblical reasons. It makes no sense.

Ron Beasley is thinking along the same lines:

In Leviticus a lot more time is spent talking about the evils of pork and shellfish than homosexuality.  I doubt [that] Dreher would be very popular among the fundamentalist Iowa Christian pig farmers if he were to point that out.

Indeed. Not to mention the evils of wearing mixed fabrics, or cooking or handling money on the Sabbath, or ear-piercing or tattoos, or checking your horoscope, or allowing your children to trick or treat on Halloween.

12 Responses to “The Iowa Gay Marriage Decision”

  1. Bob says:

    Maybe the people who want to pork those porkers that Christian farmer has want equal rights for there dispicable life style also. What are you going to say to them libby? Whats wrong with that life style? Probably less diseases.

  2. John says:

    “I have often wondered why it is that the two aspects of human existence that are least mentioned or discussed in the Bible — reproductive decisions (contraception and abortion being two of the biggies) and homosexuality — are the two issues that religious fundamentalists most often condemn for specifically biblical reasons. It makes no sense.”

    Sure it does–they are lying about being religious fundamentalists. Let’s face it, most evangelical “Christians” in the US reject that most basic message of Jesus.

  3. Punditus Maximus says:

    Fundamentalism is about sex. The particular religion is irrelevant; if you look at Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or Hindu fundamentalists, you see the exact same set of fears and exact same focus.

    It actually makes a lot of sense. In the absence of both poverty and a direct line between sexuality and reproduction, people really do have to think about what sexuality means on a societal level, rather than what it means to a wealthy few as versus a poor many. Fundamentalism is a direct reaction to the conclusions sensible people begin to draw.

  4. Jeff Hersh says:

    I believe the Iowa gay-marriage ruling is the most significant gay-rights event since Stonewall, and am dismayed and befuddled by how the main-stream media has downplayed the news. The NY Times, LA Times, Wn Post and other papers barely placed it on the front page. Almost all reporting has discussed at length possibilities and plans for Iowa to amend its constitution to essentially overrule the unanimous decision, as California’s did with Prop. 8.

    Have we so politicized our judiciary that we see state supreme court decisions merely as another voice in an ongoing political battle? What ever happened to respecting our supreme courts’ rulings on the constitutionality of statutes? Can anyone recall another U.S. or state supreme court holding like this (in which a fundamental right like equal protection was found violated) where the reaction was to assume the issue was not over, and that voters would someone overturn the decision through referendum or constitutional amendment? I can’t.

    When interracial marriage was deemed unconstitutional in 1947 by the CA Supreme Court, 90 percent of Californians opposed interracial marriage. Yet there was no drive to amend the CA Constitution to overturn the decision as there was with Prop. 8, where only 52 percent of the State opposed gay marriage. Doesn’t anyone care about the sanctity of constitutional principles any more?

  5. tas says:

    If being a “public christian” means enforcing your bigoted views, on how people should live the most personal aspect of their lives, by law — then by golly, fuck’em!

    What a fucking crybaby. There are countries where Christianity is actually repressed; not just authoritarian regimes but places like France, where they hate religion in general. But in America, Rod Dreher could goto any one of the churches that dominant the American landscape; or even hold prayer vigils on a street corner for fuck’s sake, and he’s complaining about how he’s can’t be a “public christian”? What a fucking looney toon. These people have absolutely no fucking clue.

    Sorry about the fucking swearing, but this fucking stupidity is practically un-fucking-fathomable.

  6. Ringbearer says:

    Kudos to Iowa on achieving Marriage Rights for all of its people.
    Welcome aboard!

  7. Brigitte says:

    Bahaha! This is so simple. Iowa wants the money. They want the money that will come with people coming to the state and getting married. How much do you have to pay for one of these marraige licenses? I haven’t even checked on that. So the state would get money for that. Staying overnight in a hotel, mo money. Eating in a restaurant, booking a hall…etc. So if you are thinking that Iowa is progressive and open, think again. They will smile to your face and agree with anything. Once they have the money, they will probably laugh to your face and arrest you outside the courthouse for more dollars to the state.

  8. tas says:

    I think your comment and I think advertising blogs suck, but this portable clothes washing machine you posted about does look very appealing. Does it last 5 years? If so, it’ll pay for itself.

  9. Brigitte is Clueless says:

    Brigitte, if Iowa was in it for the money, then why did the counties that originally denied marriage licenses do that? If they wanted the license money they would have accepted it, and worked with hotels and restaurants to run ads in gay travel magazines. The Iowa Supreme Court has no means of selfish gain from this ruling no matter which way they ruled.

  10. kelly says:

    A message to the Christian right, in other words those that base their objections to gay marriage on the Bible. Why can’t you trust your God? He says that there will be a Judgment day. He tells you to reserve judgment to Him. He says to love your neighbor, not persecute them. Jesus said, “let those without sin cast the first stone”. He was telling you to not do exactly what you are doing. Please take a long hard look at the hypocrisy you are espousing, then ask yourselves why people are leaving the church in record numbers. Love your neighbor, pray for them, but do not interfere in their basic rights as Americans, or you may be judged not on your whole life, but one moment of not trusting your God.


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