In Iowa, a civil rights victory

If state lawmakers don’t pass gay rights legislation, the courts will.

IowaâÄôs unanimous Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage in the state was a watershed opinion for the gay rights movement. But the question remains what that equitable and reasonable ruling means for IowaâÄôs northern âÄî and often progressive âÄî neighbor, Minnesota. Proponents of gay marriage in Minnesota want to legislate the rights of same-sex couples, rather than using the court system. We consider that strategy the best route to take. The courts are rightly considered the least democratic branch of our government. Accordingly, if a state legislature like MinnesotaâÄôs successfully passes a same-sex marriage bill, the gay rights movement would draw wider support. Two different approaches of marriage-equality legislation are currently going through the state legislature. Project 515 is pushing its agenda to grant same-sex couplesâÄô rights through a slow-moving process. Many posit that this legislation is too dawdling, but it is politically feasible. Meanwhile, The Marriage and Family Protection Act would be a much more sweeping revision of the stateâÄôs marriage statutes, making them all gender-neutral. That act, however, might be too extensive and fast to draw enough votes to overturn a certain veto from Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Both approaches have merit and state lawmakers âÄî not to mention the governor âÄî would be wise granting some sort of civil protection for same-sex couples in Minnesota this session. As Republican appointed Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark Cady wrote in the opinion, âÄúIf gay and lesbian people must submit to different treatment without an exceedingly persuasive justification, they are deprived of the benefits of the principle of equal protection upon which the rule of law is founded.âÄù If our lawmakers cannot realize that, our justices will.