When you go to the Web site of the Iowa court system, there's a simple statement right at the top of the page: Administering justice under the law equally to all persons.
So today's decision from the Iowa Supreme Court, which struck down as unconstitutional a 1998 law banning same-sex marriage, is a no-brainer. Our federal and state Constitutions are supposed to protect everyone.
One you strip away the bigotry and the fear, all of the arguments about religion - none of which has any place in the discussion anyway - it's pretty clear. This isn't about anyone's personal view. It's about equal treatment under the law for gay and lesbian citizens.
Here's some of what the justices said in their unanimous decision:
“We have a constitutional duty to ensure equal protection of the law. If gay and lesbian people must submit to different treatment without an exceedingly persuasive justification, they are deprived of the benefits of the principle of equal protection upon which the rule of law is founded.”
For a more detailed analysis, that legal beagle Tin Man has sniffed out other pertinent parts of the decision and offers his opinion.
The court's ruling takes effect in three weeks. Any attempt by the legislature to undo it would take at least two years. And I hope that doesn't happen, because no one's civil rights should be put up to a popular vote.
As marriages take place, Iowans will learn who the justices were talking about: people they grew up with, went to school with, work with, live next door to, regard as friends, maybe even people they're related to.
If anyone from Iowa happens to come across my blog, I'd tell them what I've said before. I live near Massachusetts and from what I can see, life there goes on as normal since same-sex marriage became legal.
The only difference is, gay and lesbian citizens are more secure and better protected. And that only strengthens our society, just as the ending of legal discrimination against African-Americans did nearly 50 years ago.
As Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick put it, "In five years now ... the sky has not fallen, the earth has not opened to swallow us all up, and more to the point, thousands and thousands of good people — contributing members of our society — are able to make free decisions about their personal future, and we ought to seek to affirm that every chance we can."
The road to equal rights for all Americans has been a long and tortuous one and progress doesn't happen nearly fast enough. But we're getting there. And today is one of the good days.
So I just want to add my voice to the chorus: Hooray for Iowa!
You showed us during the presidential caucus that we can break down barriers and effect change. All it takes is a big heart, an open mind and enough common sense to realize that what unites us as Americans is much more important than what divides us.
Now, you've shown us that again. Another reason to love the Hawkeye state.