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Response to Senator Bartz’s Des Moines Register Guest Column (by Miles Brainard)

Dear Senator Bartz, My name is Miles Brainard and I live in Mason City, right next to your district. This morning, when I was looking at the news online, I stumbled across a letter you had written to the Des Moines Register concerning same-sex marriage. It is because of this I am writing to you now. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a little book I hold near and dear to my heart. The way in which time and forgetfulness may be used to strip people of their rights is an important point, and I applaud you for making it. However, your suggestion this is occurring within our state is distressing to me. In your letter you say, “Gay marriage is Iowa’s Animal Farm. We, like the animals in Orwell’s satire, have become the suppressed beast and fowl, criticized as non-inclusive uneducated fools. Gay marriage supporters hope we will, like the duped animals, modify our memories and stifle our voices in accepting a concept that is completely contradictory to our constitution’s founders.” I have two problems with this. One, you are not being suppressed. Since same-sex marriage was legalized in this state, nothing has happened to harm you or any of your constituents. No one has had their rights or freedoms violated. No one has been stolen away in the night by secret police. No one has been enslaved. Perhaps what you mean when you say you have “become the suppressed beast and fowl,” is that you have been overruled, an upsetting thing for you. You do not believe homosexuals, and other non-heterosexuals, should be fully integrated into society. For what I assume are religious reasons, you have decided this minority should not receive the same legal rights as you, the majority. You wrote, “The ability to prostitute the checks and balances of government and set new precedents is the ultimate hope of those who advocate that the public should not have an opportunity to reverse government decisions inappropriate and counter to long standing precepts.” You would like to see the majority vote on what! the minority may have and do. This is not morally defendable and a shameful position to take. It is exactly the same sort of thinking which allowed a racist majority to impose harsh rule over ethnic minorities up until only recently. Government exists to represent the collective will of the people, but it is also duty bound to shield individuals from the blunt force of the mob. You, the mob, are not allowed to bully the minority. Two, the intents of our founders are largely irrelevant. A great thing about our state constitution, a thing it shares with the national constitution, is the way it is designed for revision. Times change, and people change with them. It used to be the case, only rich, white men could vote or hold office. As we have progressed as a society, we have matured and realized women, non-whites, and people of little means also deserve a voice. You may very well be correct our state’s founders would not approve of same-sex marriage, fair enough. However, just because they wrote our government into being does not make them infallible. They would still be wrong to think that way and so are you and people like you. You say the legalization of same-sex marriage is “counter to long standing precepts.” So what? Just because ideas are tenacious, it does not mean they are admirable. The amount of time a position is held does not correlate with the position’s validity. “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” This line is not lost on me. In fact, I would ask you to please take another look at it. Are non-heterosexuals really attempting to commandeer new, better rights and raise themselves above the majority of Iowans as an elite class of citizens? You suggest this group of people “based on self-identification” desire to be “awarded special status and privilege not given to the non-identified.” No, you are wrong, Senator. This group of people does not want to identify as being different. They do not want to be special. What this group of very nice people want is be like everyone else. Non-heterosexuals are not greedy, they will not try to steal equality from anyone. They merely wish to possess the same equality as everyone else, nothing more, but nothing less.

Sincerely, Miles Brainard|

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