The Message From Iowa



As we saw again in the Prop. 8 trial, there is no good reason to exclude loving and committed same-sex couples from marriage. Prop. 8 defenders of antigay discrimination went as far as to assert during their closing arguments in the case that they “don’t have to have evidence” — a shocking assertion in any case and more proof of their utter disregard for the judicial process. With no evidence to back up their antimarriage position, attempting to dismantle the courts is all that remains for antigay activists, and so they resort to funneling their flood of secret money into campaigns that suggest we don’t have to have independent judges either. Nothing, in their view, should stand in the way of their antigay agenda, and so their attack campaign continues.

In a September speech in Iowa, Justice O’Connor — hardly a liberal partisan — praised the merit-based judicial selection process in Iowa (as has the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Iowans for Fair and Impartial Courts) and condemned politicization of the retention process. She urged Iowans not to oust judges simply because of disagreement with a decision.

“There are some threats to our court systems from judicial elections with the vast amounts of contributions that come into the courtroom, in effect,” said Justice O’Connor. In earlier statements, she put it even more forcefully: “We must be ever vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies.”

America’s courts are under attack by antigay forces, and we can’t leave defending the Constitution to judges alone. All of us, gay and nongay, have to create the climate of receptivity in which judges, legislators, and politicians are emboldened, encouraged, and, indeed, enlightened to do the right thing. It’s bad enough that NOM and its ilk violate the Golden Rule in imposing different treatment on gay couples seeking the legal commitment of marriage. We must not allow them to trash the basic rules of the American constitutional system or subvert the courts whose job it is to protect those rules, including constitutional safeguards, for all of us.

Evan Wolfson is the founder and executive director of Freedom to Marry.

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