Waldlaw Blog

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Checking in From Costa Rica

I'm writing this from the internet room at the Cafe de Paris in Playas de Nosara, Costa Rica, where I am on spring break with my 13-year-old and a buddy of his. It seems like every time I stop to look at the internet, another state has extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. If this keeps going, there will be over half a dozen states enjoying marriage equality by the time I get home! It has been interesting reading this news here. I learned about Iowa at the jungle home of my mother-in-law, who herself has completed 2 years of law school and was as interested as I was in the details. We both had the same reaction -- IOWA??!? Who knew that Iowa was one of the first states to allow women to own property and to go to law school; that Iowa was far ahead of the curve on anti-slavery issues; that Iowa actually has a long and proud history of being at the forefront on at least some controversial civil rights issues. I am still working my way through the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous opinion, but what is immediately clear is that each court ruling on these issues is taking the experiences their fellow courts have had to heart in rendering their opinions. The Iowa decision includes a lengthy and very well-thought-out discussion of why the separation of powers requires the court to be the final arbiter of issues regarding equal protection and fundamental rights. The court clearly is thinking about our experience in California, and trying to prevent the same from happening in Iowa. I sincerely hope that our California Supreme Court Justices are reading the Iowa decision carefully, and thinking long and hard about what that court has to say about the meaning of a constitutional democracy and the ways that the constitution is designed to limit the power of the majority. Clearly, the Iowa Supreme Court is suggesting that Proposition 8 would be unconsitutional if it were in Iowa. And now Vermont, where the House today voted to override the Governor's veto and enact the state's marriage equality bill. I had not intended to spend my tropical vacation thinking about marriage rights for same-sex couples -- and frankly, for the most part that is not what I have been doing. I have spent most of my time here playing with the boys, diving in and out of warm waves, watching monkeys play in the trees, and visiting with friends and family. My plan for the afternoon is to go fishing. But it is nice to know that progress is being made in my absence, and that the United States that I return to next week will be one where same-sex families can walk a little prouder and feel a little safer than they did when I left. And now it's time to go fishing. Pura vida!


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