The EFM Feature

From the AP:

A county judge struck down Iowa’s decade-old gay marriage ban as unconstitutional Thursday and ordered local officials to process marriage licenses for six gay couples.
Gay couples from anywhere in Iowa could apply for a marriage license from Polk County under Judge Robert Hanson’s ruling.
Less than two hours after word of the ruling was publicized, two Des Moines men applied for a license, the first time the county had accepted a same-sex application. The approval process takes three days.
Gary Allen Seronko, 51, was listed as the groom on the form and David Curtis Rethmeier, 29, the bride.

I’ve been amazed by what a non-factor the sanctity of marriage has been in this race so far. We’ve had lengthy discussions of abortion, the war, and pretty much every other controversial issue you can imagine–but it’s as if everyone decided, as Miss Teen South Carolina might put it, that marriage is “so 2004.” As a result, Governor Romney hasn’t been able to talk to a lot of folks about the principled and effective record he has on this issue. Here’s how a coalition of Massachusetts social-conservative leaders described what he did as governor:

Staunchly defended traditional marriage. Governor Romney immediately and strongly condemned the 2003 court decision that legalized “same-sex marriage” in our state. More importantly, he followed up on that denunciation with action – action that saved our nation from a constitutional crisis over the definition of marriage. He and his staff identified and enforced a little-known 1913 law that allowed them to order local clerks not to issue marriage licenses to out-of-state couples. Absent this action, homosexual couples would surely have flooded into Massachusetts from other states to get “married” and then demanded that their home states recognize the “marriages,” putting the nation only one court decision away from nationalizing “same-sex marriage.”
Worked hard to overturn “same-sex marriage” in the Commonwealth with considerable progress to date. In 2004 he lobbied hard, before a very hostile legislature, for a constitutional amendment protecting marriage – an amendment later changed by the legislature to include civil unions, which the Governor and many marriage amendment supporters opposed. Working with the Governor, we were successful in defeating this amendment.
Provided active support for a successful citizen petition drive in 2005 to advance a clean constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Rallied thousands of citizens to focus public and media attention on the failure of legislators, through repeated delays, to perform their constitutional obligation and vote on the marriage amendment.
Filed suit before the Supreme Judicial Court. The Governor’s suit asked the court to clarify the legislators’ duty to vote and failing that, to place the amendment on the 2008 ballot. That lawsuit, perhaps more than any other single action, was by all accounts instrumental in bringing pressure on the legislators to vote. The vote ultimately was taken on January 2, 2007 and won legislative support – clearing a major hurdle in the three year effort to restore traditional marriage in the Commonwealth.

After that letter was written, and after Governor Romney left office, the effort in support of traditional marriage suffered a setback–they lost a vote in the 85% Democratic state legislature–and I’m not sure where it stands now. However, that doesn’t change the elementary fact that Governor Romney, alone among the major candidates, has experience fighting and winning on this issue. Just imagine what he could do confronted with an even marginally less hostile legislature, given all he achieved in Massachusetts.
Beyond Massachusetts, he’s also campaigned for a federal marriage amendment. As we’ve noted before, that, too, makes him unique among the frontrunners. And there’s something that might even be more important, given recent news: He’s credible on this issue, because he’s lived out his belief in the sanctity of marriage.
I’m sorry to see that Iowa judge’s nutty ruling. But I hope it serves as the kick-in-the-pants this race sorely needed, as it’s been ignoring a critical issue. If and when this issue is again taken seriously, Governor Romney will have the chance to talk about all he learned watching the radicals who espouse “gay marriage” on their home turf–and, in important ways, beating them. That will enrich the quality of the debate–and also refute all the silly and unresearched allegations that he’s “flip-flopped” on the sanctity of marriage. He hasn’t; rather, the issue has no better defender in the 2008 field.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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