Sunday, April 5, 2009

If You Live in Iowa, En Garde

Sincere congratulations to the people of Iowa, who now enjoy a freedom that people in my state of California do not. You have a good comeback for LA-types who make "fly-over state" comments. (Of course San Franciscans would never say such things.)

Judges exist to interpret laws according to the constitution. Of course, the R.R. (Religious Right) doesn't appreciate the rule of secular law, so when something doesn't go their way, they issue press releases about "legislating from the bench" and then put measures on the ballot that (for example) define marriage as between a man and a woman. Unfortunately the public doesn't always understand, and the R.R. willfully ignores, that civil rights are not subject to a vote. But this is exactly what happened in California, and it worked. If this worked in California, it will probably work in the Midwest.

The good news is that in Iowa, two consecutive legislatures have to ratify such a ballot measure before it appears on a ballot. California has no such controls. Consequently, this year won't be the year for Iowa's Prop 8 - because both houses are controlled by the Democrats. I can't imagine it will be easier to get people riled up about this next year, or the year after that.

It bears repeating that over here in California, we reacted to our own anti-gay marriage ballot measure with complacency. Walking around San Francisco, it's very easy to tell yourself "So what if it's on the ballot? Everybody I know" (in San Francisco!) "is for gay marriage anyway." The organizers, and a huge amount of the money, behind Prop 8 came from outside the state. And you saw what happened.

So, Iowans, pay very, very close attention to what the R.R. is doing regarding gay marriage in Iowa over the next two years. It seems they can't get on the ballot soon, but they're not going to take this lying down. See the last three bullet points in this article.


Elliott said...

Nate Silver did an interesting piece on this development. He used various criteria to predict the likelihood that a state would pass a marriage ban in a given year. The way it looks over time, is that the probability of a state passing such a ban decreases. Interestingly, he predicted that California would have crossed the 'will not pass' threshhold next near -- in a sense, we jumped the gun by getting it on the ballot in 2008. By his model, Iowa, like California, would ban gay marriage if the vote were held today, however, he predicts that by the time the ban gets on the ballot in Iowa, they will be in a toss up year: the chance that a ban will be passed will be close to the chance it won't.

You can check out the whole article here:

Michael Caton said...

I feel that what happened in CA was a Pyrrhic victory for the RR, allowed by the complacency of some of the No on 8 organizers in the coastal cities. I haven't checked to see if they have prediction markets for gay marriage, but that would surely be interesting. Linking dollars to beliefs (for example in prediction markets) is always a good way to see if people put their money where they think their values are.