Same-sex benefits…and corn

Editorial Board

Living in Iowa, one gets used to feeling less than progressive. When the politicians roll in to curry our electoral favor, commentators ask why that is so. They often conclude that Iowa is first because we represent middle-of-the-road, average Americans better than just about any state besides New Hampshire. This is not as flattering as it might sound; they basically like us because we are very, very average. States like Vermont and Hawaii take chances. For example, they are years ahead of the rest of the country in providing benefits to same-sex couples and recognizing civil unions; it is doubtful that our state will follow suit any time soon. So we were as surprised as anyone when the Board of Regents voted 7-1 in July to treat same-sex partners as spouses so they could receive health benefits. This is a bold move for our little state. It sends a positive message to the rest of the country that it should look to us as more than just a model for educational excellence and a prime source for corn products. Now, when people say, “Iowa, isn’t that where the potatoes come from?” We can hold our heads high and reply, “No, Iowa is the state where the major universities offer same-sex benefits to couples with a notarized-relationship contract and two types of joint ownership . and corn.” Far from creating a drain on our state’s financial resources, as Regent David Fisher said, this policy will simply create a state of equity for university employees that should have already been in existence. Perhaps one day the state of Iowa will play catch-up and stop masquerading their average American prejudices as simple, homespun, financial concerns. editorialboard: Carrie Tett, Greg Jerrett, Katie Goldsmith, Amie VanOvermeer and Andrea Hauser.