Research 2000’s latest Iowa poll for KCCI-TV contains good news for supporters of marriage equality. The survey asked, “Now that more than a year has gone by since the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, do you favor or oppose marriage rights for same-sex couples?” 53 percent respondents said they favor those rights, 41 percent opposed them and 6 percent were unsure.
I haven’t seen the full poll results, showing support for same-sex marriage rights among men, women, Democrats, Republicans and independents. I will update this post with a link to the cross-tabs when I find them. Bryan English of the Iowa Family Policy Center told KCCI he didn’t think the poll was representative of Iowans’ views, but several other statewide polls have shown that the majority of Iowans are not eager to overturn marriage equality. As time passes, public acceptance should increase if the experience of Vermont and Massachusetts are guides.
The KCCI poll also found that 62 percent of respondents support legalizing medical marijuana in Iowa, 33 percent oppose doing so and 5 percent are unsure.
Getting back to the same-sex marriage issue, I give huge credit to the Libertarian candidate for Iowa governor, Eric Cooper. On Thursday he made the case for tolerance while speaking to the Ames Conservative Breakfast Club.
Here’s my rough transcript of the first part of this clip:
You know who the Pilgrims were? The Pilgrims were a group of people in England, and everybody in England hated their guts. And you know what they did? They came to America to live here. And the reason–they came here because we were the land of the free. We started the land of the free. That is, even if everyone in surrounding society hates your guts, in America as long as you’re not hurting other people and their property, you can live the way that you want, as long as you’re being peaceful.
To me, that’s the most American story there is. If you’re a peaceful person who’s not hurting other people, you get to live your life according to your cultural traditions. OK, well, guess what? There are some homosexuals in America today, and to me, they’re the Pilgrims, ok? Surrounding society doesn’t like ’em very much, but you know what? What America is, is you get to live the way that you want to live. And if their cultural tradition is that they can get married, I think that’s America, to allow them to follow that cultural tradition. No, I don’t think that’s [unintelligible] surrounding society as a whole, and I think if we’re gonna restrict that, we’re not America anymore, we’re England, ok? And we’re better than England, we’re America.
Now people say, “Well shouldn’t we be allowed to vote on marriage and what marriage means in the state of Iowa?” Well, yeah, legally, there are mechanisms by which a sufficiently large supermajority can persecute any minority they want. Yes, legally, we could all vote to persecute the Pilgrims if we wanted to and yeah, legally, we could all vote to say, you know, gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry if we want to. But that’s not America anymore, ok?
Cooper’s a bit off on the history. The Pilgrims were far from laid-back and accepting of other people’s traditions. In fact, “New England Puritans, long viewed as a persecuted group in England, were the least tolerant of other faiths.” But I cut Cooper slack. He’s a neuroscientist, not a historian, and what he did took guts.
You’d expect a Libertarian addressing a Republican group to focus on likely areas of agreement: reducing taxes and the size of government. Instead of just preaching to the choir, Cooper challenged his audience to think about a charged issue differently. He had to know that most people at that breakfast club oppose what the Iowa Supreme Court did.
Post any thoughts on same-sex marriage in Iowa in this thread. The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa’s leading gay wedding planner may star in a television “docu-reality series” about his work. Beau Fodor created Gay Weddings With Panache soon after the Varnum v Brien decision was announced last year.
UPDATE: On Sunday the Des Moines Register published results from a Selzer and Co. Iowa poll of 501 likely Iowa Republican primary voters, which was in the field from June 1 through June 3. The survey included several questions about gay marriage. About 77 percent of likely GOP primary voters agreed that “Iowans should have a chance to vote on changing the constitution to specifically ban gay marriage,” but 20 percent disagreed with that statement. Meanwhile, only 50 percent of likely GOP primary voters agreed that “Iowans should vote to remove current Supreme Court justices from their office because of their decision on gay marriage.” About 45 percent disagreed with that statement. Regarding the statement, “Some Iowans have overreacted to this issue, and having gay marriage in Iowa is just not that big a deal,” 35 percent of likely Republican primary voters agreed, while 62 percent disagreed. I find those numbers encouraging.