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It's not a 'marriage debate' simply because pro-discrimination lawmakers say it is

by Jeremy Hooper

I keep seeing local media outlets use some variation on the following headline in their coverage of a go-nowhere, wantonly discriminatory marriage amendment that a couple of conservative Republican lawmakers in Iowa have dreamt up:

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 At 6.08.20 Pm
[DM Register]

This kind of framing is the embodiment of what is so frequently wrong about conversations like the one we are having on marriage. All too often, media outlets and others with platforms frame something as a debate—one with two sides, similar merits, and similar chances—just because a lone person or a small cadre of people chooses to air their discriminatory whims before the public. So when lawmakers propose an amendment that Iowans don't want, that can't pass, and that could never hold up under court scrutiny, people who should know better turn what is, in truth, a pie-in-the-sky bout of hostility toward a minority population and our benign, peaceful, nearly six-year-old civil rights (in the state of Iowa) into some sort of fake "debate."

But there is no debate. Iowa has marriage equality and Iowa will keep marriage equality. Iowa is done debating this; the rest of the country will be done debating it soon enough. If bands of conservatives want to scream and holler and have debates with themselves and whoever is willing to dignify them, then that is one thing. But in terms of the policy and its practical effects, the conversation about marriage equality is already over in many places, and it is near-over nationwide. Those who want to keep forcing a debate already lost. There's no reason why media outlets need to feed these prejudicial fever dreams.

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