Varnum v. Brien is a beginning, not an end. It's a beginning of both a new era of equality and a political shooting war. "A republic, if you can keep it," said Franklin, and now we have equality if we can keep it.
As we engage the marriage debate in Iowa and define the terms of debate, think back to the Kennedy years.
In Engel v. Vitale in 1962, the Supreme Court ruled against officially sponsored and organized school prayer. In its way, that ruling was ahead of the curve of public opinion as Varnum v. Brien is now.
President Kennedy did not denounce "judicial activism" and "legislating from the bench." Instead, he said:
"We have in this case a very easy remedy, and that is to pray ourselves. And I would think that it would be a welcome reminder to every American family that we can pray a good deal more at home, we can attend our churches with a good deal more fidelity, and we can make the true meaning of prayer much more important in the lives of our children."
Indeed today, no less a conservative than Cal Thomas argues that religious conservatives should worry less about who else gets married and more about saving their own marriages.
JFK didn't demand a constitutional amendment the way Iowa Republicans are today. Kennedy urged respect for our Constition and our separation of powers. And leading Democrats in Iowa City were well on the way down the high road as early as Friday with the "fairness" meme. (We got the One Iowa robocall to call our legislators, but since ours were at the Pentacrest celebration we figured that wouldn't be neccessary.)
So are legislative leaders, with Senate leader Mike Gronstal topping the list. This is not about "denying the people a chance to vote." It's taking the tough stand that our Constitution actually means what it says and that we don't discriminate, and it's about NOT taking the extraordinary step of changing our highest law as an end-around.
The National Organization for Marriage (sic) is taking the low road in this deceptive spot:
"They're telling us how to live," says the ad. No. More like "They're not letting us tell you how to live." This is about the government NOT establishing your religion as secular law. We are not a sharia theocracy.
Next: What to do if it does get on the ballot.