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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 5, 2009 at 4:18 PM

Iowa legalizes gay marriage

How will the state define new responsibilities?

I read the story “Iowa high court legalizes gay marriage in state,” [seattletimes.com, Nation & World, April 3] and then I read the actual opinion.

In our country, we are at loggerheads over the meaning of marriage. We can’t even come to agreement on the meaning of words, much less ideas. Each side declares the other to be myopic, unable to see the whole picture, though I think each views the issue through a kaleidoscope.

For many years, gay-marriage proponents have touted the need for equality in marriage as an expression of equal rights. This decision addresses that problem: “The purpose of Iowa’s marriage law is to provide an institutional basis for defining the fundamental relational rights and responsibilities of persons in committed relationships”(Iowa Supreme Court summary).

In reading the actual opinion, I see another facet of this ruling — perhaps an unintended consequence — running through Iowa’s governments and courts for years to come. That facet is the definition of responsibilities for this new right.

How long will it be before civil courts are handling lawsuits requesting equal protection by straights? Will the straight community file suit to ensure state agencies equally enforce the responsibilities among all parties?

When these unions fail, certainly divorce will be a requirement. What then? Alimony/palimony? If a divorced parent takes on a gay partner, will this relationship end any alimony/palimony? And child support? How will this change once one says, “I do”?

And what of property division? And then there is the question of financial responsibility. How about taxes? Or death?

As for me, I believe the state should get out of the marriage business. License civil unions for everybody, gay and straight. Let churches handle marriage, according to their custom.

— Bob Boren, Tacoma

Comments | More in Gay marriage, Gay rights

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