At 12:01 AM on January 1, New Hampshire became the 5th state to grant marriage equality to same gender couples, changing Presidential politics as we know them. Arguably the most important states in Presidential politics, both Iowa and New Hampshire are equality states.

Iowa and New Hampshire politics are intimate. When I lived in Iowa I regularly met presidential candidates. They are extraordinarily available. One day I was walking down the street in Iowa City and I ran into Joe Biden having a conversation with a picnic table full of Iowans. They were grilling him on everything from foreign affairs to equal rights.

I ran into Al Gore at my favorite coffee shop shortly after the presidency was given to Bush by the Supreme Court. He was sporting a thick beard and and several extra pounds, but he was in Iowa so I had hope he was going to make a comeback.

I also met Bush Senior, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, and John Kerry. I didn't meet these people because I was a powerful lobbyist or because I had a lot of money to donate, but because they were candidates and they desperately wanted me to like them because I was an Iowan.  New Hampshire residents have similar experiences. Candidates make personal phone calls and will even show up at people's front doors. Residents host multiple house parties, where the candidates are grilled better than any reporter hosting a televised debate.  Iowans and New Hampshire residents take their responsibility very seriously. They can make or break a candidate.

Now Presidential candidates of all political persuasions will come face to face with married same gender couples and their children. Those couples have the power to confront the candidates about their views on equality. If they are anti-equality (as I presume most Republican candidates will be) they will have to explain those views to the families they wish to harm. They will have to look directly in the eyes of children and tell them their parents are not equal. This will not sit scene will not sit well with most Iowans.

As support for marriage equality grows in these states, Republicans and Democrats will face a choice. They can continue to side with the increasingly unpopular opinion in Iowa and New Hampshire that gays are less equal. They can defend those policies face to face with the residents that can give them the power they crave, or they can side the with the inevitable result of these dramatic changes and choose the winning point of view, equality.

Joe Mirabella

Joe Mirabella

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