Iowa’s absurd reasoning on same-sex marriage

The Iowa Supreme Court has just legalised same-sex marriage. Here is a link to an excellent dissection of this decision. 

One of the arguments used by the court was a true straw man, namely that the court could not come down in favour of religious arguments against same-sex marriage because to do so would violate Church/State separation and therefore the Court had to permit same-sex marriage. 

Here is the relevant quote from the above mentioned article dealing with this particular argument: 

‘The Iowa court itself presents an alternative to a feelings-based moral reasoning in the final pages of the Varnum opinion. But it presents that alternative in the most thuggish and intellectually dishonest way. Turning to an argument that was not even made by the county officials defending their duty under Iowa law (and thus should not have been discussed by the court at all), Justice Cady imputes to the state legislature a covert motive behind its marriage-protective statute of 1998: “religious opposition to same-sex marriage.” This is what’s really going on: “religious sentiment most likely motivates many, if not most, opponents of same-sex civil marriage.” But this, Cady argues, is constitutionally objectionable for the following reasons: first, there are different religious opinions, some opposing but others approving of same-sex marriage; second, the state government is forbidden to choose between rival religious beliefs; and third, “[s]tate government can have no religious views, either directly or indirectly, expressed through its legislation. . . . This proposition is the essence of the separation of church and state.” 

“Justice Cady seems not to notice that, by ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, he and his fellow judges, by his own reasoning, have placed the state in the position of endorsing those religious views that approve of same-sex marriage. But that observation only scratches the surface of an argument that is—well, come to think of it—all surface. For the unanimous Iowa court appears incapable of entertaining the most elementary distinction between matters of theology, faith, and worship, on the one hand, and matters of moral reasoning springing from religious conviction on the other. What the opinion calls “religious opposition to same-sex marriage” would more accurately be described as “moral opposition to same-sex marriage springing from religious sources.”’

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