April 5, 2009

Great news, Iowa has joined Connecticut and Massachusetts by honoring equal rights for all. And that includes gays and lesbians.In a unanimous decision, the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage this week.

What I really like about the Iowa and Connecticut decision is the concept that “marriage” is a legal issue, a civil union first. Only the “state” can perform marriages. Then, if you want, you can have your religion celebrate your new legal status.

That’s the civilized approach. That’s the smart approach as far as I’m concerned. Too bad the U.S. has transferred the governmental right and authority to priests, pastors, and other religious leaders. That was a BIG mistake. Now we confuse marriage, the legal institution with personal religious beliefs.

Seems to me that marriage is like birth and death. A baby is born and the “state” provides the legal documentation. Then the baby can be baptized, or participate in some other religious celebration. Same with death. The “state” provides the legal documentation of death. And then the funeral – whether secular or non-secular – is the postcript.

The New York Times sums it up very well in its editorial of 04-05-09: “The new decision says marriage is a civl contract and should not be defined by religious doctrine or views.” The Republican appointee to the Iowa Supreme Court, Justice Mark Cady, said: “We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further an important governmental objective.”

In describing the law that the Supreme Court overturned, Justice Cady said: “The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a consitutionally sufficient justification.”

Congratulations, Iowa. Good for you, Massachusetts and Connecticut. What’s taking every other state so long?

Filed under: Social Commentary

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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