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Friday, Apr 3, 2009, 11:10 am

Gay Marriage Now as American as Corn-Fed Midwesterners

By Jeremy Gantz
A huge and decisive victory in Iowa after a four-year court battle. The state's Supreme Court ruling, which will allow same-sex marriage to take place in Iowa in as soon as 21 days, uses perhaps the clearest legal language yet to underscore a basic, unassailable point: Gay marriage is a matter of basic civil rights, and its logic is the same as the logic underpinning desegregation and women's rights.

From the ruling today:

The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution...

Equal protection under the Iowa Constitution is essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike. Since territorial times, Iowa has given meaning to this constitutional provision, striking blows to slavery and segregation, and recognizing women’s rights. The court found the issue of same-sex marriage comes to it with the same importance as the landmark cases of the past.

This ruling makes me particularly happy as a Midwestern transplant from Massachusetts. No longer is gay marriage something limited to liberal, godless New Englanders, who are so close to liberal, godless gay-marriage loving Canada. In that sense, while the ruling itself isn't unprecedented, it marks an unprecedented geographical (and thus psychological) victory: Gay marriage is now as American as corn-fed Midwesterners.

Jeremy Gantz was the Web/Associate Editor of In These Times from 2008 to 2012. His January 2011 cover story for the magazine, "Terrorist by Association," was selected as a finalist for the Molly National Journalism Award 2012. He is now a contributing editor to the magazine, focusing on labor issues.

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