Nearly two years after county recorders started handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples, polls show Iowans are pretty evenly split between favoring, opposing and, frankly, not caring at all about marriage equality.
But the rhetoric’s never been hotter, with opponents pushing for constitutional amendment and Republican presidential hopefuls compete for the title of World’s Most Devoted Proponent of Traditional Marriage.
So marriage equality supporters are in an odd position, trying to persuade the middle third of Iowans that they should care at all. “I think a lot of people haven’t had the conversation yet with themselves,” One Iowa Political Director Troy Price told us when he met this week with The Gazette’s editorial board.
And really, why would they have?
Price was here with Kate Varnum and Rev. Tom Capo, pastor at Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist in Cedar Rapids, to lay out a conservative case for marriage equality — a message they’re taking to campuses and rural towns, to fiscal conservatives and people of faith.
“It’s about conservative values of limited government,” Price said. “What if we were talking about government’s control of health care or guns instead of your ability to choose a spouse?”
It’s a logical argument, even if it does lack the punch of the brimstone-laced rhetoric of politicians looking for a few votes and some airtime.
Marriage equality supporters can’t very well compete with the threat of eternal damnation. All they have is the real-life stories of how dramatically marriage equality has changed the lives of our neighbors, co-workers, family and friends. People like Varnum and her wife, Trish.
“You can beat me on the street, you can call me faggot, you can spray paint my house and that would not have the impact that taking away my marriage would have,” Varnum told us Tuesday.
Then she told us about her 92-year-old great aunt, a lifelong Republican from Radcliffe, who explained her support for same-sex marriage like this: “I don’t understand it, but I love you and I love Trish.”
That probably sums up the feelings of a good number of you who haven’t thought much same-sex marriage because you don’t think it’s your fight, or the issue’s been decided, or for whatever reason.
But we all take a big risk when we allow government to deny the civil rights of a few. And just because your life hasn’t changed doesn’t mean you don’t know someone who has everything to lose in this fight.
Think about it.
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