Ironic that Same Sex Couples Can Marry in Cedar Rapids But Not in San Francisco

The heartland is now ahead of "the People's Republic" of California.

On Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, and the Hawk-eye State will now join Massachusetts and Connecticut in leading the nation towards marriage equality (the Vermont legislature passed a law legalizing same-sex marriages as well, but  Republican governor Jim Douglas has promised to veto it). Good on Iowa.

As in earlier civil rights movements, the nation is headed towards the right place -- although support for fullmarriage equality is still a minority view, the trend, as this table from suggests, is clear:

Click for larger version
(click for larger version)

When it comes to general acceptance of homosexuality, the numbers are better still. Moreover, there's a huge generation-gap on the issue; in the vote that denied equality to LGBT couples in California last Fall, the exit polls told the story: folks over 65 voted for discrimination by a 57-43 margin while under-30s supported marriage equality by a 67-31 spread.

Anyway, I'd like to make a point about this that's inspired by a few paragraphs in a San Francisco Chronicle story on the Iowa ruling:

Calvin Massey, another constitutional law professor at Hastings, agreed that the ruling reflected emerging views among some state judges but said their importance shouldn't be overstated.

"I think you're likely to see more victories in judicial chambers for advocates of same-sex marriage," said Massey, who described himself as uncommitted to either side. "The judiciary in general is more liberal on this issue than the population as a whole."

It's easy to look at the polling on marriage equality and these decisions and come to the conclusion that the "judiciary in general is more liberal on this issue than the population," which of course fits nicely into the right-wing meme about  "activist judges" run amok. But the reality is very different -- the legal basis for these decisions is both sound and, in fact, extremely popular, and that renders words like "liberal" and "conservative" almost meaningless in this context.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.
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