Last week, in anticipation of the debate of the last 24 hours, I wrote: "Drop the pretense that this is about anything other than prejudice. Get up on the House floor, say 'I hate fags,' and sit back down. It’ll save us all time and it’ll be more honest."
That's now happened, as the ugly, hateful side of our state emerged.
Mark Doland of Oskaloosa complained that, paraphrasing, 'he pulled his child out of school and is having to pay thousands of dollars to educate his child because somebody at a public school taught his child that it is all right to be gay.'
“Telling people in the medical field that they have to perform services that go against their beliefs? Whose rights are more important? It will filter into all aspects of life, school, medicine. At some point enough is enough. My rights are under siege,” said Karen Mogenhan of Montrose, who apparantly believes her "right" to have her prejudices officially sanctioned by the state is more important than a gay Iowans right to, well, be alive.
"I don’t think we should open it up and let the people who have a sinful lifestyle … have a special (sic) right," said David Selmon of the Word of Life Church in Burlington. He can preach what he wants there, though Christ Himself was silent on the subject of gay marriage. But state sponsorship of his theology is another matter.
The hate in the public hearing was bad enough, but it reared its head on the house floor as well, where Judiciary chair Rich Anderson played everything short of the bestiality card: "a male and a female can do something that a homosexual couple cannot: They can create children accidentally. That’s the issue. It’s not about love. It’s not about romance. It’s about driving state policy toward responsible procreation."
You better believe it's not about love. Not today.
The only good thing that came out of the last 24 hours was the heartfelt conversion of Jeff Angelo, the former Republican state senator who testified against the amendment he once voted for:
This debate centers around the devaluation of the lives of a select group of people. At its worst, we are being asked to believe that our gay friends and neighbors are involved in a nefarious agenda. The outcome of which, supposedly, is the unraveling of society itself. My friends, Iowans are discomforted by this debate. We know it not to be true.Angelo is a true conservative who understands that the proposed amendment is the ulitimate in big government: "It does not restrain government intrusion in the lives of law-abiding citizens and therefore it violates the very purpose of our Iowa Constitution."
But for most "conservatives," that's not what this debate is about. I'm relieved, in a way, that the House vote is over. I've always wanted more brutal honesty in politics, and the witnesses and legislators were brutally honest: we hate gay people.
Sixty-two Iowa state representatives, including "Democrats" Kurt Swaim, Dan Muhlbauer and Brian Quirk, are formally on the record as bigots. "Sometimes when I represent my district I have to differ from other members of my caucus that come from more liberal parts of the state,” Swaim said by way of excuse.
And sometimes leaders have to lead, too. That's what Mike Gronstal is doing, and Council Bluffs ain't exactly Iowa City. Here's hoping that the 26 Democratic senators are more courageous than Swaim, Quirk and Muhlbauer, and that a few Republicans are as brave as Jeff Angelo.