brokenswitch.jpgLost in the welter of the Larry Craig coverage is a little love story out of Iowa.

It seems Polk County Judge Robert Hanson ruled late last Thursday afternoon that Iowa’s Defense of Marriage act, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, violates the state’s constitution, and ordered the county recorder to begin allowing same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses. By 11:30 AM on Friday, the judge agreed to stay his order until an appeal is heard, but at least one couple was able to obtain the license, get a waiver of the three-day waiting period, find someone to marry them, and file the license with the county before the stay was issued.

So now, in the midst of the chaos that is the presidential primary calendar, the issue of same-sex marriage will be higher on the Iowa political radar of the presidential campaigns. GOP candidates looking to court the conservatives will try to out-do each other in bashing the ruling, and have already started doing so. Romney was quick to start whining about “activist judges,” McCain calls it “a loss for the traditional family,” etc., etc., etc. Shorter GOP party line: “Bring out your fears! Bring out your fears!”

On the democratic side, the campaigns are likely to pick up from where the Human Rights Campaign/Logo tv network debate left off. (Here’s a liveblog account from Pam’s House Blend.) They want to reach out to the GLBT community, and those who support it, without giving the GOP ammunition to attack them.

Des Moines Register political columnist David Yepson captures the conventional wisdom, so beloved of “centrists” and campaign consultants, saying, “The last thing a Democratic politician seeking re-election wants is to have an issue like this whipping up Republican social conservatives to turn out and vote.” But Yepson doesn’t leave his observations with that. Instead, he goes on to question that conventional wisdom a bit:

. . . But two things may temper this debate:

– Many Iowa voters no longer get as bothered about homosexuality as they once did. Lawmakers just approved a bill protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment and housing.

– At a time when the country is at war, questions surrounding national security trump all other questions. And now it looks as if the economy is growing shaky, thanks to the mortgage crisis. In hard times, economic issues trump social ones.

When you are worried about losing your job or your kid getting killed in Iraq, you just don’t care as much about what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom.

Bottom line: Republicans looking to flick “the gays are coming” switch may find it no longer lights up the electorate the way it once did.

But will the Dems notice, or will they keep acting and talking as if the switch still works?

Let the the GOP have their Grand Old Phobias. I’ll take a little “liberty and justice, for all,” myself.

No, make that a LOT. I’ve gotten really hungry for it over the last seven years. Thanks, Judge Hanson, for a little taste of it.

(Photo of a broken switch via aphasiafilms.)



I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

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