I was talking with Matt last night who is a political junkie. We talked at length about what is probably one of the more heartbreaking races here in Iowa - the vote to retain three of Iowa's Supreme Court justices. As most everyone knows, in April of 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down the state's marriage law defining marriage as between one man and one woman, making same-sex marriage legal in Iowa. This (predictably) got the social conservatives' undies in a bunch, particularly perennial also-ran Bob Vander Plaats. After losing the Republican gubernatorial primary to Terry Branstad, he made ousting the three Supreme Court justices who are up for retention this year his raison d'etre. Never mind this won't change the law. Never mind that no justice has been ousted in Iowa history. NOT ONE.
It's no secret around these parts that the Supreme Court decision that allowed all Iowans to enjoy the benefits of civil marriage and not just the ones that happen to be heterosexual made me very happy. So the fact that 37% of those polled favored ousting all three judges vs. 34% who favored retaining them made me a little sad. (10% favored retaining some and I have no idea what the remainder would do.) What this really is is a referendum on marriage equality - make no mistake about it. Put to a vote now, I have a feeling that a constitutional amendment would pass. It would be a squeaker, but I think we'd succeed in putting discrimination into the Iowa Constitution.
But it's not just the question of judicial retention that has me on pins and needles. House and Senate Democrats have been pretty successful at blocking a vote on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man-one woman. Republicans promised to make it a campaign issue and honestly, I haven't seen it much. Granted, my House district is heavily Democratic so we're likely to re-elect our current representative. Our Iowa Senate candidate is a bit more of a toss-up. If you were to go by yard signs, I'd say that he has a bit of a fight ahead of him. But that's the thing - polling numbers for races like that are virtually non-existent. So we won't really know until tomorrow night. The CW says that one of the chambers has the potential to flip to Republicans, and the other is safely Democratic (I forget which is which.) But even one chamber going Republican forces a vote in both chambers and I'd rather keep pushing that off. The longer we wait, the more likely an amendment vote is to fail.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a one issue voter. But this is a HUGE issue for us and one that we're heavily invested in personally. I take solace in knowing that I'm on the right side of history when it comes to this. But just because the rest of the country isn't ready for it doesn't mean that we should have to wait for them to catch up with us.
I've been saying over the last few months that Iowa is better than this. And we are! But tomorrow night I think I'll be watching election returns through my fingers as if it were a horror film. Wake me when it's over.
And just think, the 2012 presidential campaign will begin in earnest early in 2011. I can't wait.