Everything old is new again.
I watched "Milk" last night and find it disconcerting that thirty years later, many people still exhibit the same prejudices backed up by the same tired arguments. I'm looking at you, Iowa House of Representatives.
Today, the Iowa House Judiciary Committee is expected to forward on HR6 to the full chamber for a vote. HR6 seeks to amend the Iowa constitution to add the following:
Marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state.
Here are a couple quotes from the hearing, as reported by the Des Moines Register:
Tom Chapman, director of the Iowa Catholic Conference
“We think that that it takes a man and a woman to have a marriage. Marriage is definitely about the emotional desires and needs of adults, it’s about the love people have for one another but we also believe on a very important element it’s about the possibility of bringing children into the world.”
Once again, the same "it's for the children" argument. The Supreme Court of Iowa found that argument without substance, and so do I. If procreation was a core component of civil marriage, the state would also have a compelling reason to prevent elderly people, infertile people, and people who do not intend to have children should from entering into this contract. Clearly civil marriage, as codified in the laws of the State of Iowa, does not discriminate on the basis of ability or desire to create and raise children.
If one's religion promotes procreation as a core component of religious marriage, that is an entirely different and unrelated matter. The court clearly said that religious institutions remained perfectly free to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation when it comes to officiating religious marriage ceremonies.
Danny Carroll, a former state representative spoke on behalf of "The Family Leader" (whatever that means)
“The people that we represent at the Family Leader and the many hundreds and thousands of Iowans who want a chance to vote on this do so with no malice in there hearts In fact, many of those people would be quick to offer an apology to the homosexual community for the way they have been treated over the decades. For the ridicule and at least verbal if not physical abuse that they have been subject to. We reject that, Mr. Chair. Let me repeat: we reject that just as much as we reject evangelical Christians being the brunt of name calling, being called bigots because they simply want the chance to vote on what the definition of marriage is and has been for the last 2,000 years.”
So instead of name-calling and bigotry, The Family Leader just wants to amend the State Constitution to incorporate civil discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a personal trait over which the APA says people have little control or choice. How very reasonable!
The "this is the way we have done it forever" argument is wholly unconvincing to me. There are a lot of things we have done for a long time that aren't right or morally defensible in modern civil society. Of course, the easy comparison is that for most of the last 2000 years, it was also acceptable for people to own other people. That doesn't make it right, and most people today agree that slavery is a gross and embarrassing part of our common history. I believe that future generations will feel the same way about discriminatory sexual orientation laws.
Societies and their morality structures change over time - I think that for the most part things are getting better. I understand the fear and misunderstanding that some people have over change. Yet the vehemence and steadfastness with which some people seek to use the laws of the State in order to discriminate against others is both sad and disappointing. There is still a lot of room for improvement.