Trish Varnum of Cedar Rapids, one half of the Kate-and-Trish-Varnum couple whose lawsuit helped same-sex couples earn the right to marry in the state of Iowa told KCRG TV 9 the other day (and I'm filching this from KCRG.com (thanks, you guys rock!)), “There are so many other things we should be focusing on...rebuilding the city, rebuilding the state and its economy...after everything that's been happening here."
She was speaking of her desire to be left alone by the people who oppose same-sex marriage, now that the decision has been handed down. Not sure that's entirely going to happen for her, but what a reasonable desire on her part, and what a reasonable outlook on where this issue stands in the greater context of our times.
It occurs to me that all of the other things going on, locally, statewide, and nationally actually do give a better chance of success to the idea that the same-sex marriage debate in Iowa will end not with a bang but a whimper. When the economy is struggling as mightily as it is, when we here in Cedar rapids have so much to do to repair and rebuild our community post-flood, now seems like a time when Iowans may focus their energies on tackling those things as opposed to worrying about who is in love with whom, and whether those people want to commit to one another with a union acknowledged by the state.
And while I'm at it, let me just throw this in: Notice that I said that the state simply acknowledges the union of those two people. It does not endorse it. Nor should it. All people should be opposed to the idea of a state being able to decide who can and cannot get married (within reason, of course. Prohibitions meant to protect minors or those of reduced mental capacity and so on are certainly necessary and desirable.) Allow the state to tell two sound-minded consenting adults that they cannot marry is to me a treacherous detour off the path of “liberty and justice for all.” We've all pledged allegiance to that, at one time or another, have we not? Which part of “all” do some of us not understand?
I see that a same-sex couple received a waiver of the three-day wait that Iowa prescribes between marriage licensing and actual marriage and got hitched right away Monday on the steps of the PolkCounty administrative building. Amazingly, Earth did not fly off its axis. There was no plague of locusts. Fire did not rain down from the heavens. I have a feeling though that, despite the fact that there was no immediate response from God in Heaven regarding this, some people will just assume that the Big Guy In The Sky is just lulling us in while He comes up with an adequate response. As if He'd need the time. That makes me think of the Family Guy episode in which Brian and Stewie go to Europe, and inadvertently humiliate the Pope. The Pontif chases them down in an alley, and demands that God immediately smite them. When nothing happens, Papa says (in an Italian accent, of course), “He's a-cookin' a-somethin' up.”
Look, clearly I agree with Trish Varnum that we have bigger fish to fry, as it were. And I recognize that not everyone will agree with me on this issue. The nice thing about it is, for the most part here in Iowa we have been able to disagree on this issue and remain friends. I hope we can all continue to do so, and treat those who do not share our sentiments with the respect that we all deserve.