There isn't a limited amount of love in Iowa. It isn't a non-renewable resource. If Amy and Barbara or Mike and Steve love each other, it doesn't mean that John and Mary can't.

Marriage licenses aren't distributed on a first-come, first-served basis here in Iowa. Heterosexual couples don't have to rush out and claim marriage licenses now, before they are all snatched up by gay and lesbian couples. Heterosexual unions are and will continue to be predominant, regardless of what gay and lesbian couples do. To suggest that homosexual couples in any way, shape or form threaten to undermine the stability of heterosexual unions is patently absurd.

And I know, you'll say: "What about the gay agenda?" Well, just as there turned out to be no Bolsheviks in the bathroom back in the 1950s, there is no gay-agenda in the 1990s. There is, however, a strong, well-funded anti-gay agenda, and we have an example of its efforts here before us today.

All that gay and lesbian people are asking for is, if not understanding, then at least tolerance. All they are asking for is the same basic civil equality that all Americans yearn for and should be entitled to.

To those in this body who know in their hearts and consciences that this bill is wrong, yet are afraid to vote against it, I ask you to consider the powerful message this bill sends to the people of Iowa. It sends the message that discrimination against gays and lesbians is acceptable and officially sanctioned. It sends the message that it's OK to deny civil and equal rights to some minority groups in our society. It sends the message that the gift of marriage is good for some yet forbidden to others. And for those in my own party who plan to vote for this bill, it sends the message that Democrats, who have traditionally stood up for and protected everyone's civil rights, aren't willing to do so in the case of homosexuals.

If you are weighing the political consequences of opposing this bill and find they are too heavy, I'd like you to think about the great moral changes that have occurred in this country over the past 200 years. Ask yourself when you would have felt safe to speak in favor of the separation of the colonies from Great Britain? When would you have taken a public stand for the abolition of slavery? When would you have spoken in favor of women's suffrage? In the 1960s, when would you have joined Martin Luther King and others in calling for equal rights for African Americans? When would you have spoken out against restrictive marriage laws banning inter-racial marriages?

While the choice before us today -- between a green button or a red one -- is a difficult one to make, it is nowhere near as difficult or dangerous as the choices faced by the many freedom fighters who came before us.

We're elected not to follow but to lead. We're elected to cast what might sometimes be a difficult, challenging, and politically inexpedient vote.

We're elected to represent our constituents when they're right, and to vote our consciences regardless of whether our constituents are right. And our conscience should be telling us to stand up for civil rights regardless of how unpopular it may appear.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "A time comes when silence is betrayal." Such a time is now. With your no vote on this bill, you can help break the silence and stand with those who have no one to stand with them. Thank you.

 

Ed Fallon
Iowa House of Representatives

 
     

 

 

 

"Address on Gay Marriage Before the Iowa House" © 1996 by Ed Fallon
 
 

Compare to Colorado Governor Roy Romer's Veto 
 
 

 Original Graphics © 1996 by Jim Davis-Rosenthal
and Canéla Analucinda Jaramillo
 

 

 

 

Next Work

Essays 

Contents by Contributor/Title | Contents by Genre
 
     
 

standards@colorado.edu


About Standards