A Perfect Storm Threatens Same Sex Marriage in Iowa
I was extremely proud to be an Iowan on the day that the state Supreme Court decided that same sex marriage in our state is legal. I was even prouder on the day that I officiated at my first same sex wedding ceremony. Yet even while I experienced such pride, I also fully expected that we had not heard the last from the opponents to such marriages. Filled with the sense of their own righteous (or should I say self-righteous) indignation, they would marshal their forces and ultimately launch their counter-attack. What did surprise me was that such a counter-attack was not immediate. Yes, there were some measures taken by them, but they were generally weak and ineffectual; not at all in keeping with the usual means and methods of those on the right. So still, I waited for the hammer to fall.
It seems clear that my wait is coming to an end. A “perfect storm” seems to be gathering on the horizon for our state. Contributing to the formation of that storm is the confluence of both the approaching of statewide elections, including the election for governor, and the rapid rise and growth throughout our nation, including in Iowa, of the group calling itself the “Tea Party.” Inspired by such an intellectual midget as Sarah Palin, the “Tea Party” is clearly a manifestation of a radicalize version of the Republican Party. Though they claim an identity separate and distinct from the Republican Party, their actions to date make their relationship to the Republicans appear to be more akin to the relationship which existed between the SA – the Brown Shirts or Storm Troopers – and the Nazi party in the Germany of the 1930’s. Both groups serve as the “bully boys” of their parties and as such are not above making threats and performing acts of harassment. Except in the case of the Nazis, they had the “integrity” to claim the SA as their own while today’s Republican party has neither claimed nor denounced the actions of the Tea Party.
As this perfect storm takes shape, we are seeing certain gubernatorial candidates claim that, if elected, they will eliminate same sex marriage rights. We also see a growing concerted effort to target legislators up for re-election who support same sex marriage, as well as promoting candidates who oppose it. And then, of course, we hear an increasingly vocal call for making the issue a matter for a public referendum, as if securing the equal rights of all Americans should be subject to the will of the majority. If that were the case, women still would not have the vote and African Americans still would be the subjects of segregation, if still not enslaved.
There is no question but that Sarah Palin has a certain charisma, and she is a looker to boot! But as history has shown us, too often in the past, charisma has turned toxic for a society when it has been abused to promote a dangerous and hostile ideology. This is my great fear concerning the Tea Party. Things are turning quite scary in America, and I suspect they will turn especially scary here in Iowa as the elections draw nearer and the debate over same sex marriage becomes more heated.
This is a time for people of conscience and courage to step forward and be heard. It is so easy, and so convenient, to shirk our obligations to stand up and speak out in the face of such extremism. We can justify our inaction and our apathy by claiming that these folks are just an extremist fringe and not to be taken seriously. However, to do so is to irresponsibly ignore the harsh reality that their numbers are growing and their actions are becoming bolder. To quote Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Let us take warning from his wisdom!