Friday, April 03, 2009

A step forward in flyover country

Wow.

Iowa.

Iowa!

As a former Midwesterner, I have to say, I did not expect that.

Well done.

7 comments:

headbang8 said...

The true live-and-let-live spririt of frontier libertarianism may have won through.

Iowa is a well-educated island amid evolution-embracing Kansas, the Hillbilly Ozarks and Megachurched Texas.

Mind you, it's only the State Supreme Court. They'll ammend the state constitution, soon, by ballot or whatever other means. Under mob rule (which is how many Americans interpret democracy) gays and lesbians lose.

Barn Stormer said...

Good news for equality indeed.

Francis Sedgemore said...

I'm not sure why you're so surprised, John. Some coastal US states have a reputation for liberalism, but cultural sophisticates can also be fickle beasts. In recent times, for example, we've seen Californian public opinion flip-flop on a number of issues.

Iowa is an agricultural state. As far as Europe is concerned, agricultural regions are noted for being the breeding ground of bourgeois liberal political movements, and many of the centre-right liberal parties of Europe have their origins in rural radicalism. Could present day Iowan politics be drawing on this noble tradition.

The Wife said...

"As far as Europe is concerned, agricultural regions are noted for being the breeding ground of bourgeois liberal political movements ...."

Er ... Francis ... have you been to Bavaria lately? Or the rural parts of northern France - Le Pen country?

headbang8 said...

By the way... courtesy of a number of blogs.

Historian Linda K. Kerber points out Iowa's history of civil-rights firsts:

1839 = Iowa Supreme Court refuses to enforce a slavery contract (26 years ahead of the federal level)

1851 = Iowa legislature removes legal constraints on interracial marriage (116 years ahead)

1868 = Iowa Supreme Court rules against segregated schools (a century ahead)

1869 = Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law.

1873 = Iowa Supreme Court rules against a steamboat that violently ejected a black woman from a first-class dining table (91 years ahead)

1949 = Iowa Supreme Court rules against a lunch counter that banned blacks (15 years ahead)

2009 = Iowa Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage.

J. Carter Wood said...

Thanks, HB, for the info, and a reminder that there might be something positive to the notion of 'frontier libertarianism'.

More humbly put, it might be an echo of the notion of 'live and let live', which I recall encountering many times in those parts of the Midwest I know well.

While I would never, Francis, assume that far-sighted progressivism was limited (or natural) to the coasts (having spent a good amount of time on one of them!), I know enough of the rural Midwest (from northern Illinois to southern Indiana in any case) to, yes, be a bit surprised by this decision.

And I also know enough to know that it's not going to be universally welcome in those parts.

This makes my pleasure at the decision even greater, as I know how demoralising it's going to be to the people who oppose it, the same people who can no longer assume that respect for gay rights is some kind of deviant coastal phenomenon, outside the realm of 'real' Americans.

I know people who have thought (and probably still think) like this.

It may be an exaggeration to say some Americans believe Europe begins in New York, but it's not much of one.

However, your points, Francis, about the fickleness of cultural sophisticates (no matter where based) and the potential for rural areas to generate political philosophies that are much to the benefit of humankind are well taken. (As is, apparently, confirmed by HB's reproduction of Dr. Kerber's helpful timeline.)

Though, as my better half notes -- and as my own personal experience agrees -- this ain't always (or maybe even usually?) the case.

Either way, I think Barn Stormer has it right in noting that it's hard to see this as anything other than positive news, even if it's another step at the start of a long fight rather than the conclusion of one.

End of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end, like.

Francis Sedgemore said...

Anja - one could no doubt identify other examples of rural regions where knuckledraggers hold the political strings. But the fact is that many of the bourgeois liberal parties of Europe were founded by farmers/landowners. It was this class that created bourgeois liberal democracy.