Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mike Gronstal's hair

Well, the big news here this week is that I finally got clipped and by the time Margie was done yesterday morning the debris around the barber chair made it look like Old Shep had been sheared.

That’s why I’ve been meditating on Mike Gronstal’s hair (above). Mine should look like that much of the time --- modestly cut, moderate length , nothing fancy but neatly combed. I was born without hair pride, however, and so it usually doesn’t.


I sure hope Mike, who is Iowa’s Senate majority leader, is able to hang on to that hair during the upcoming legislative season. There’s going to be a whole bunch of Republicans up there at the capitol who will want to run their fingers through it, then grab on and try to yank it out by its roots.

Since Democrats managed to hang on to a slim margin in the Senate, Gronstal will control the agenda there. One thing he’s pledged to do is block any attempt to bring a GOP-proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage up for a vote. Good for him. He seems sincere in this and there’s relatively little of that going around among politicians.

But a heck of a lot of Republicans have been having sweet dreams lately of restoring the sanctity of heterosexual adultery and divorce, so they’re going to find this annoying.


Same-sex marriage is a funny thing and I’ve got to admit that my thinking on the subject has changed over the years. Used to be, I thought some sort of civil arrangement would be best --- equal rights for everyone but leave matrimony alone; straight folks --- welcome to it.

That I think was mostly a factor of age and a modest case of heterophobia. Who, after all, would want to be virtually straight?

But it’s become obvious now that same-sex couples are among those most committed to fidelity, life-long commitment and all that kind of stuff. So why not give marriage a chance? Maybe when paired with the slight majority of openly heterosexual people who both preach and practice fidelity we can give the old institution new life.

I still think it would be a good idea to get the itchy fingers of the church out of state-sanctioned marriage entirely, however. Civil unions for all. Then let the church bless or not bless whatever it cares to. But that’s another issue entirely.


Also in Iowa this week, three lawyers have filed suit attempting to establish as unconstitutional the November vote that ousted three Iowa Supreme Court justices because they had ruled in favor of equal marriage rights. There is a provision in the Iowa Constitution requiring that judicial votes be conducted by a “separate” ballot.

This probably isn’t a suit that going too far, since it hinges on the question of whether a judicial ballot printed on the back of the general election ballot actually is separate. But it’s certainly interesting.

The cool thing about that vote in November is the fact that ballot box adventurousness will turn around and bite those who started it on the ass. I can hardly wait to start figuring out which judges are Republicans so I can vote against them next time around. Heck. Who needs an independent judiciary?


And finally, out there in Washington, the House passed in quick order Wednesday a free-standing measure that would dismantle Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell at the convenience of the military. More than 13,000 gay and lesbian troops have been booted on the basis of sexual orientation during DADT’s 17 years.

New polls suggest that perhaps 80 percent of the general population now thinks it’s time to ditch DADT, but it’s not clear what the Senate will do since partisan wrangling killed a similar effort last week.

We’ll see --- but it never hurts to remember the words of the Good Book: All is politics, saith the preacher.

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