Today's decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to affirm unanimously the state unconstitutionality of prohibiting marriage between same-sex partners is a welcome addition to an American societal argument that is seldom framed appropriately. We live in a society that nominally sees the need, as did our founders, to separate "church and state," by avoiding any advocacy on theological matters and embracing advocacy of matters important to our pluralistic community.
The "sacrament" of marriage, however profound to a believer, has no significance to a non-believer, but civilians in a democracy do have a profound interest in the "institution" of marriage. Most obvious is the responsibility of protecting children. Children are literally dependent upon adults for their well being, and our civil society monitors the behavior of adults who assume that responsibility, and intervenes when it is abrogated. Other civil concerns include predicable negative health issues from inbreeding, or sexually transmitted diseases. Contractual obligations and special tax considerations for this kind of partnership can be added to the list.
None of these civilian concerns is consequentially affected by sex or theology, and it is high time to clarify and reinforce the traditional distinction between our secular government and a theocracy.
I am a retired boatbuilder with a fascination for political thought. Most of my life I cheerfully described myself as an "eastern establishment, knee jerk, liberal Democrat."