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Regulation and Compliance > State Regulation

Early Markers

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One of the things that makes life really interesting (sometimes a little too interesting) is when expectations are upended.

So, who would have guessed that Iowa would be the third state to legalize marriage between persons of the same sex? And that barely a week later Vermont would follow suit.

The first was my beloved Massachusetts. But that was not really a surprise since many people (especially those who don’t know it), think the state is totally whacked anyway. Then came Connecticut. But that’s probably just the ruboff factor from being next to Massachusetts.

California (now there’s no surprise) was next in legalizing so-called gay marriage, but this was overturned in November when the Mormons allegedly went all out and financed an electoral push that rejected it.

Now there’s Iowa. And Vermont. My goodness, as Aunt Polly used to say as she stood on the porch watching the cows come back from the pasture, isn’t this a turn of events?

How this came about in the Hawkeye State is that the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling from a couple of years ago that overturned a state law that restricted civil marriage to the joining of a man and a woman.

Just as startling as the upholding itself was the fact that the 7-person Supreme Court was unanimous in handing down its decision.

According to the New York Times, Justice Mark Cady, a Republican appointee, wrote, “We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further an important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification.”

Vermont is probably less of a surprise. Time was it used to be considered a pretty conservative state, although not as conservative as its next-door neighbor, New Hampshire. But Vermont has moved steadily to the left. For years it was represented in the House by Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist. (And imagine, despite that he kept getting elected over and over again! And not only that, he’s now a U.S. senator from the Green Mountain State.)

Will wonders never cease, as Aunt Polly used to say, as she went out in the morning to get some maple syrup for pancakes.

Why is this important to the life insurance business? Duh, it’s Iowa, not exactly the first state that springs to mind as a hotbed of radicalism.

And yet, and yet. (Maybe that should be the motto of my blog, which you can check out at

And yet, in some instances, the state has been in the vanguard in fighting for social justice and has sometimes been considered a bellwether for the rest of the country.

So the business should take notice of what happened in Iowa as an early marker of how the future is likely to unfold in regard to this issue. Not tomorrow, obviously. But eventually.

The U.S. is changing, not only demographically, but also in how a big swath of the population looks at–and recreates in a new guise–age-old situations like marriage and family.

The fact that Iowa is in the so-called heartland of the country goes right to the heart of the matter.


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