Love Matters


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*Beginning in 2010, I started writing a bi-weekly column, “From Richard’s Oft Cluttered Desk” which appears every other Wednesday.

The election season is upon us and again the issue of gay rights is on the agenda. It’s not in a typical, “let’s ban gay marriage” fashion. It’s from three-time Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats.

After losing for a third time, Vander Plaats announced a new campaign. He wasn’t going to run as a third-party candidate, but instead he created Iowans for Freedom to unseat the three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who are up for retention this year. The three are part of the seven who overturned the states’ ban on gay marriage in April 2009.

As for former Iowan, this issue is near and dear to my heart for that reason. But also because I am gay. I’ve made no secret of it over the years on this blog and have written on it often.

March 9, 2008: A Flower Just Blooming -Consequences of Bullying
March 12, 2008: I Am Listening – Sally Kern Gay-Bashing
April 3, 2009: Is This Heaven? No, it’s Iowa! – Gay Marriage SC Ruling
April 7, 2010: Love Always Wins

I have never met Vander Plaats and I don’t really plan to. He thinks I don’t have the same rights as he and his wife. On his website he writes, “In April of 2009, we witnessed blatant judicial activism by the Iowa Supreme Court . The court legislated from the bench…they executed from the bench…and, they even attempted to amend our constitution from the bench […]”

What he fails to grasp is that is precisely the role of our state supreme courts. It’s not explicitly written in the U.S. Constitution, but the concept of “judicial review’ began back in the early 1800’s. It is this practice that only the Supreme Court can exercise that gives them the power to rule on legality of law as I like to call it.
Supreme Courts don’t hear cases on guilty or innocent; they hear cases on interpretations of law. The Iowa Supreme Court heard a case from gay couples who believed they were being discriminated against.

I think I understand Bob though. He was probably railing against the Iowa (yes, Iowa) Supreme Court decision back in 1868 in Clark v. The Board of Directors, when they ruled that “separate but equal” schools had no place in Iowa. That is 85 years before the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling!

I wrote two years ago: “Good people can disagree on this issue. Surely we can agree every person, regardless of color or creed deserves fundamental rights. The Declaration of Independence spells them out, “…the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Simple, yet powerful words written by wise and tolerant men in a time when equality was in its infancy.”

Vander Plaats and those that don’t understand that role of the Judicial Branch seek to politicize the fifth ranked court in the land.

Please don’t let him. Marriage was made a fundamental right in this country long ago and the government is breaking the law in now allowing law-abiding gay couples to marry. We’re not talking religion here, we’re talking state-recognized marriage in a court house. I don’t just your love life Bob so don’t judge mine.

I deserve every right granted by the Constitution and these three judges did their job. You may not like their decision, but they ruled on law. Not emotions. Not religion. And certainly not centuries old prejudices.

A message to my fellow Iowans: Please vote “yes” on retaining these three judges. They are a model of excellence and strict adherence to the law. They didn’t make law – they simply voided an illegal one. Which is precisely their job.

On that spring day in April 2009, those seven justices affirmed the Iowa state motto: “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.”

It is now in your hands to affirm their decision: Love Is All That Matters.

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