The Corner

Iowa’s New Scene

We now know why Karl Rove left the White House. Obviously, it takes time to travel around the country using hypnosis to instill a bizarre political death wish into liberal Democratic judges. Either that, or the gay marriage issue keeps getting politicized, not because of Karl Rove, but because activist judges insist on being…well, active. So now we’ve got a new front-burner issue in Iowa.

On balance, this would certainly seem to help Mitt Romney, who rightly criticized the ruling as “another example of an activist court and unelected judges trying to redefine marriage and disregard the will of the people as expressed through Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act.” Romney also rightly went on to pointed out the need for a Federal Marriage Amendment.

Neither Fred Thompson nor Rudy Guiliani favor a federal amendment, yet I think each could benefit from clarifying his stance on this issue. As one of his “twelve commitments” Rudy Guiliani criticizes activist judges and promises to appoint strict constructionist. Well then, Rudy should unequivocally criticize the Iowa ruling and use it as an occasion to emphasize his determination to appoint strict constructionist judges. That would be one important way for Guiliani to reassure conservatives who might disagree with him on some issues, but who nonetheless see him as someone who can win–and follow up a win with good judicial appointments.

Fred Thompson does not support a federal amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. But he does “support the right of States to choose their marriage law for themselves.” So if, in response to the Iowa court decision, we see a campaign for a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, Fred Thompson might be expected to support it.

And what exactly is Guiliani’s position on a state constitutional amendment? If I understand correctly, Guiliani does not support same-sex marriage. So in a context where a state DOMA has been thrown out by an activist judge, would Guiliani favor a state constitutional amendment? Again, on balance, the Iowa court decision helps Romney. Yet depending on how they respond, other Republican candidates might get a boost from it as well.

On the Democratic side, none of the major candidates supports same-sex marriage. But I do think it will be awkward when the Dems are pressed to show exactly what their opposition to gay marriage consists of. Hillary and Obama aren’t about to pledge to appoint non-activist judges, but will they at least criticize the Iowa court ruling? Will any of the Democratic candidates support the move for a state constitutional amendment? Given that an activist judge has just thrown a state DOMA out the window, it will be tough to argue that a statute will suffice.

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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