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Column: Same-sex marriage in Iowa not common sense

The Iowa Supreme Court an example of overstepping activist judges.

Marcus Bowen

April 6, 2009

Just a few days ago, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a ruling from a lower court, striking down the Iowa Defense of Marriage Act and legalizing same-sex marriage in Iowa.

Eleven years ago, the Iowa state legislature passed the Iowa Defense of Marriage Act. On April 15, 1998, then-Gov. Terry Branstad signed this bill into law. The Iowa Supreme Court, by striking down this law, unfairly superseded the will of the people. This is just another example of activist judges molding the Constitution to achieve their personal political ends.

In an effort to prevent the kind of judicial activism that happened in Iowa, many states have incorporated traditional definitions of marriage into their constitutions. In August 2004, 71 percent of Missourians voted to change the state constitution, specifying marriage only can exist between one man and one woman. In November, California, Florida and Arizona voters approved constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage in their states. Thirty states now have constitutional provisions barring the recognition of same-sex marriage.

Of the 31 states that voted for former President George Bush in 2004, only Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming do not have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. These states are all at risk of having their state marriage laws overturned by activist judges.

Just four days before the Iowa court handed down its decision, the Democrat-controlled West Virginia state legislature voted against putting a traditional marriage amendment before voters. Democrats in West Virginia cited the state's statute as sufficient for upholding traditional marriage. Only a constitutional amendment can truly guarantee the preservation of traditional marriage -- just ask Iowa.

Supporters of same-sex marriage argue changing the definition of marriage poses no real harm to society. Supporters of the Iowa Supreme Court's decision editorialized in The New York Times the decision was a "refreshing message of common sense." As I researched this issue, I found that common sense dictates the exact opposite.

Healthy marriages create healthy families, and healthy families create successful children. Children need and deserve the nurturing care of both a mother and a father. After Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, it required non-profit adoption agencies to begin placing children with same-sex couples. Who bears the consequences for this radical social experiment? You guessed it -- the kids.

A traditional family consists of a married father and mother -- while this is not always possible, we can certainly agree that it's ideal. The statistics don't look good for children raised without both parents. According to the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, children raised without both parents account for 63 percent of youth suicides, 70 percent of teenage pregnancies, 71 percent of adolescent chemical and substance abuse, 80 percent of prison inmates and 90 percent of homeless and runaway children.

These numbers are for single-parent households, but it's clear that having a married mother and father is one of the greatest indicators of a child's future success. Common sense seems to dictates that subjecting children these odds is a not a good idea.

The Times got one thing right -- it is about common sense. Common sense indicates launching a radical social experiment by redefining one of humanity's oldest institutions is a pretty bad idea.

Marcus Bowen is a former vice president of the MU College Republicans and serves with the Jackson County Republican Party. He can be reached at

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