|Iowa - the bell tolls|
In 1839, Iowa was one of the first states that rejected slavery in a Supreme Court decision that was 26 years before the end of the Civil War. This was followed in 1873 when the court decided to end discrimination in public accomodation, 85 years before the decision was made by the US supreme court. More than 135 years later, in 2009, Iowa again took the lead for basic civil liberties. The Supreme Court of Iowa - ruling 07-1499 filed 03 Apr 2009 affirmed the district court summary judgment that the state statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman was unconstitutional. Unlike court rulings in California and Massachusetts which was affirmed by a narrow margin 4-3, this was affirmed by unanimously, ie 7-0. The county was unable to show that its reasons below (out of the Christian Right mantra) to stop gay marriages were valid, namely:-
a) Support of Traditional marriage
Indeed, the court highlighted that the arguments were superficial and an empty analysis. It said that “It permits a classification to be maintained for its own sake”. The court ruling reads "While the institution of civil marriage likely encourages stability in opposite-sex relationships, we must evaluate whether excluding gay and lesbian people from civil marriage encourages stability in opposite sex relationships. The County offers no reasons that it does, and we can find none". The final conclusion reads "Having examined each governmental objective through the appropriate lens of intermediate scrutiny, we conclude the sexual-orientation-based classification under the marriage statute does not substantially further any of the objectives." In summary, the arguments used by the Christian Church summarized by the County’s defense were found to be false after very careful and independent judicial review. So what were the real reasons?
The court implied that the real motives for the exclusion of gays were not the written arguments and objectives being put forward but what was left unspoken. The court ruling reads " the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage left unspoken by the County: religious opposition to same-sex marriage." “As a result, civil marriage must be judged under our constitutional standards of equal protection and not under religious doctrines or the religious views of individuals.” Therefore, Christians and ex-gay groups such as Exodus, and Focus on Family have been playing up the defense of marriage issue and making up fearful rhetoric and a deliberate practice of telling lies that gays are pedophiles for the sake of reconciling their theology. Obvious truth and reality seem to have no relevance for the Christian Right, if it is contrary to their biblical interpretation even if it caused extreme harm, suffering and deaths. The court ruling went on to highlight the pertinent reasons why Gays should be given their basic rights:-
a) History of discrimination against gay and lesbian people
In 1st century Europe, the courts of the pagan world were handling the law and judging with much bias, and influenced by political power and wealth much of what can be seen in some countries. They were known to be unrighteous and one would not expect the court to judge independently and fairly. Paul was condemning the Corinthian Church because their internal church disputes could not be resolved internally and required an external mediation to judge them. This is what is happening for the Gay issue which has caused very strong debates, church splits, and court cases to determine who owns the properties. We are letting the “unrighteous” judge the righteous.
Worst still, in the case of Iowa, the Court became the righteous party and the church, the unrighteous. The church went far beyond the church of Corinth, by insisting that internal theological demands be imposed upon the entire society. In fact, Christianity has become major anti-gay champions in seeking to retain laws to persecute Gays and to prevent them from getting married. The ruling of the Iowa court put on record the unrighteous and false reasons such as “protection of marriage” etc used by Christians to come against Gays when the real reason is purely theological. The judgment of the Court was that reasoning based solely on disputed religious faith beliefs was never a sufficient reason to deny a class of people their basic rights. It takes an “unrighteous” court to show us righteousness, fairness and justice. How far has the church of Jesus Christ fallen! That a worldly court has judged it to be far more unrighteous that it is. It is beyond the basic fairness and justice of the world system. This is a terrible indictment upon the church.