Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, April 03, 2009

Iowa Recognizes Gay Marriage

The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of gay marriage today. RbR indicated over a year ago that this was the likely outcome of the case, but I did not believe a state in the US "heartland" would do so anywhere near this soon. I have rarely been so pleased to be wrong! Hooray for Iowa! The tide is moving slowly but surely our way.

With Iowa starting on April 29, three US states will recognize marriage equality as fully as they can: MA, CT, and IA. (Without federal recognition, however, the marriages are not actually fully equal.) There are also some partial successes current and on the horizon: CA has stopped performing same-sex marriages, though currently recognizes those performed last summer, and the legislature has twice approved it (governor vetoed); NY will not perform same-sex marriages, but will recognize those performed elsewhere; and the VT and NH legislatures are expected to approve marriage equality in a matter of weeks, although both governors are expected to veto the bills.

With Sweden starting on May 1, seven nations will recognize full marriage equality: Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden. There are also some partial successes current and on the horizon: France and Israel recognize foreign same-sex marriages for many purposes, but will not perform them; Portugal's government has promised to legalize same-sex marriage if re-elected later this year; and in Iceland the government under caretaker Prime Minister Sigurðardóttir (the first-ever lesbian Head of State) is also seeking to legalize same-sex marriage, although they are very unlikely to do so before the May elections.

There will be setbacks in this fight too. But today--today is a good day.


Raised By Republicans said...

I am very proud of my state today!

Dr. S. If those narrow minded conservatives out in California take your marriage away you and your husband are more than welcome here in the enlightened Midwest! ;-)

But seriously, this is the first (I believe) progress on this front to occur in a state not on a coast and without a reputation for cutting edge progressive politics. Hopefully this will prove to be the first crack before the dame bursts.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Don't be so sure that Iowans, who are comprised of a larger percentage of evangelical fundies than Californians, won't pass a constitutional amendment overturning the decision. Running such a campaign is much cheaper and easier than doing it in CA. I sadly expect this to happen within 18 months.

If the law miraculously remains on the books, though, it will be fascinating to see the 2012 primary season there.

Raised By Republicans said...

Given the role that the Catholic Church and Mormons (not usually counted as "evangelical fundies") in passing Prop 8, I wouldn't assume that social conservatism is a dramatically more powerful political force in Iowa than California. When you and Seventh Sister were visiting me here in Iowa, remember that you drove around in some rural areas of the state and saw what was - to you - a surprising amount of public support for Obama.

I looked around for polling numbers to address your prejudiced assumptions about what Iowans think. I found this poll over at the U. of Iowa.

Key findings:

As with California there is a tendency for younger people to much more supportive of marriage equality than older people.

This ruling seems to increase support for marriage equality. It is interesting that the ruling actually reduces opposition to gay marriage slightly even among attendees of moderate churches (the majority of Iowan church goers). This suggests that the ruling may not prove to be the rallying point for a faith based backlash against equality in Iowa as it was in California. It could go that way but the current numbers don't really suggest it.

30% of respondents favor accepting the ruling as the new status quo. An additional 25% of the respondents favor "civil unions" as an appropriate alternative. Only about a third of the respondents favored doing what LTG assumes will happen - amending the constitution to reverse the ruling.

I don't know what the numbers in California looked like before the massive media campaign of hate from the Catholics and Mormons. But I have a hard time seeing a majority of people in Iowa getting fired about about culture war. The version of conservatism that seems to dominate around here is of the "get off my back and I'll stay off yours" variety. There is a qualitative difference between most Iowa conservatives and the "Jesus Camp" type folks. Sure there are self identified social conservatives but there really is a live and let live tinge to everything around here.

Keep in mind too that unlike California, there is not such a big presence of strongly hierarchical denominations like the Catholic Church or the Church of Latter Day Saints (the two biggest financial and organizational backers of the Prop 8 movement). A plurality of Californian church goers are Catholic and I would bet that weekly church going Catholics voted overwhelming in favor of Prop 8. Catholics in Iowa make up less than a quarter of church goers.

I'll conclude with one final prediction. Iowans will not respond favorably if the LDS appears to try to interfere in Iowa politics from the outside. So if the LDS tries to swoop into Iowa like they did in California, they may be more likely to alienate fence sitters on this issue.

Raised By Republicans said...

By the way, it is much more difficult to amend the constitution in Iowa than in California. To amend the Iowa constitution requires majorities in both houses of the Assembly. Then it must be approved by majorities in both houses of the Assembly AGAIN following the next election. THEN it must be approved by a majority vote in a referendum. So any amendment to the Iowa constitution requires 4 legislative majorities (2 each for each house of the Assembly with an intervening general election) and a popular majority. If any of those fail, it must start over.

Alternatively, a constitutional convention can be called but it can only be called every 10th year and only following a majority vote of the Assembly. Even then there would be a referendum confirming that a convention is needed, and then yet another vote to elect delegates to that convention.

Right now, both houses of the Iowa Assembly have Democratic majorities. Democrats do NOT want this to be a big issue. so I would not expect them to let it get through the Assembly.

Dr. Strangelove said...

RbR makes a good point about the Iowa constitution amendment process. Like Massachusetts, it requires the legislature to affirm the change twice--whereas California groups were able to bypass the legislature entirely. And just as the Democratic-led Mass. legislature scuttled the attempt to amend two years ago, I think the Democratic-led Iowa legislature will be even more inclined to leave it be two years from now.

Raised By Republicans said...

Yes, Dr. S. I think the institutional differences between Californian and Iowan amendment procedures will prove critical to this.

But I think the poll I referenced had a fascinating result. The ruling seemed to make people more accepting of gay marriage rather than provoking a backlash. I think this may indicate that for some small but significant portion of respondents the most important issue to them is avoiding conflict on this subject. They seem to favor the status quo in opposition to anyone, from either side of the debate, they perceive as provoking a culture war.

I think that is an important element of Midwestern conservatism - as distinct from the Southern or Southwestern variants that often gets overlooked. While Southern conservatives seem to be on a crusade to provoke and win a culture war and Southwestern conservatives (at least of the Goldwater variety) seem only care about economics and taxes, Midwesterners just don't want to be bothered by anyone.

They aren't necessarily more tolerant - although in my experience older, church going midwesterners can be shockingly progressive on social issues - they just don't like talking about controversial and personal things like other people's marriage rights and whether or not some couple somewhere is gay or not.

What's more I think that since the amendment procedure will mean this court ruling will be the status quo for years even if there IS a serious attempt to reverse it, more and more Iowans will realize that the world will not end just because gay couples are allowed to get hitched and be happy. Every year this is the law of the land, more people will realize the justice of it. At the same time we can hope that the anger of the reactionary third will subside somewhat.

Dr. Strangelove said...

"Midwesterners just don't want to be bothered by anyone... They just don't like talking about controversial and personal things like other people's marriage rights and whether or not some couple somewhere is gay or not."

Great point. I have been saying for a while that I thought the traditional idea of "live and let live" was the right way to frame the gay marriage issue. I had not realized this was really more of a strong Midwestern value that I was thinking of.

Pombat said...

Yay!!! Iowa is sane too!!! Like you say Dr.S, today is a good day (or yesterday, or whenever it was ;-p).

And as has been mentioned already, the timing is nice - since the anti-gay marriage folks can't set up an attempt to vote it away for a good while, the unsure people get to see how the world carries on spinning just the same as always. But with more happy people in it.

Raised By Republicans said...

My Aunt is gay and several years ago it became time for her to tell her mother (my grandmother). Grandma is a preacher's daughter who helped found her own church in a small town up in Minnesota and likes to bring her non-church going grandchildren "a message...from da lord." Anyway, my aunt was quite unsure what her mother's reaction would be. So after a judicious application of chardonnay, my aunt gave her the news. Grandma's reaction? "Oh, I've known for years." Ever since she's gone on yearly vacations with "the gals" and shows every sign of not being bothered in the slightest. This is a woman well into her 90s who goes to church three times a week (at least), leads hymn singings in her nursing home every afternoon, and never lived in a town with more than 10,000 people in her entire life. When she was a child she lived in a sod house out in western Iowa.

Now she's not a saint. She doesn't have much good to say about Indians for example. But my point is if an 96 year old, church obsessed frontier holdover like her isn't a raging bigot about homosexuality, it's significant.

Of course once she's officially registered her non-shock, she'd rather not talk about it anymore.

The Law Talking Guy said...

It is true that in California, organized churches - RC and Mormons - paid for the prop 8 campaign. It is also true that in California, political organizing is much more expensive than in small, rural Iowa. The bottom line is that Iowa is closer to the bible belt and that is why people are surprised that Iowa went this way. I suspect it will not last.

Raised By Republicans said...

LTG, I have given polling numbers and an institutional reason for why I think it will last. Do you have any reasons to say it won't other than simple prejudice?

The Law Talking Guy said...

I'm trying to be realistic, RBR, not pollyannish. The bottom line is that white evangelicals make up the bulk of political opposition to gay marriage, and their home is in the 'heartland,' not on the coasts. Not surprisingly, the poll you cited shows only 26% of Iowans supporting gay marriage is *much* lower than the 48% who actually voted to keep gay marriage in CA last November, and the electorate is usually more conservative than polls indicate on such issues, if for no other reason than it tends to be older. The fact that younger Iowans under 30 (the smallest voting age-group in any electorate) are in favor of gay marriage by about 60% is nice, but Iowa is also one of the older states in the country. And the 60% figure is not all that impressive by national standards.

The only good thing is the institutional difficulty with amending the constitution. Still, the Democratic majorities in the lege and the governor doubtless oppose gay marriage as a formal matter and will not risk their political futures on it. CA legislature voted twice to legalize gay marriage, both houses, but Iowa legislators have not tried. I can easily see the bills passing the Iowa legislature as Democrats from rural/evangelical districts stand aside.

I expect a 'no on gay marriage' campaign to be running simultaneously with the 2012 Iowa GOP primaries, making it likely that another Huckabee could do very, very well.

The argument that Iowa has fewer Catholics and Mormons, so it won't be subject to their pressures as CA was, is a misguided interpretation. The anti-prop-8 sentiment among white evangelicals was ferocious, like that guy down in Saddleback who Obama actually invited to give the invocation at the inaugural. Because in CA they were not well-funded or a very large % of the public, however, prop 8 required organized RC and Mormon money (and votes). Iowa conservatives won't need to reach out beyond the evangelical base.

Contrast Iowa with New Hampshire, also a "purple" state. In Iowa, some 40% of GOP voters called themselves evangelicals or born-agains (can't post the links). In NH, that figure was just 1 in 5. According to MSNBC exit polls, 17% of CA voters identified themselves as evangelicals. CNN exit polls say that 33% of Iowans in the 2008 election said they were evangelicals. It's not realistic to think that gay marriage is more likely to survive in Iowa than in CA, except for the institutional hurdles.

Raised By Republicans said...


Thank you for at least providing some evidence for your assertion this time. Now we have a basis for discussion that goes beyond cultural stereotypes.

You are right that there are more self-identified Evangelicals and more self-identified conservatives in Iowa than in places like California. But that's not the end of the story. Not all self-identified Evangelicals and conservatives have the same views of what those labels mean.

For example, it is not completely out of the question that rural Lutherans would respond to a pollster that they are "Evangelical" because the common term for Lutheran is "Evangelical" as in The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. But the terms means something completely different in the Lutheran context than in a Southern Baptist context.

But really the part of the poll I think is most promising is the relationship between the ruling and the level of support. Across the board the reaction to the ruling was to increase support for gay marriage. At least in the short run there does not seem to be evidence of any backlash. This alone would distinguish the situation in Iowa from that in California - I believe. Do we have polling data on the Californian reaction to the gay marriage legislation's initial passage?

Finally, remember that Iowa has a caucus not a primary so there is less incentive to use Gay bashing referenda as a "get out the vote" strategy for Republicans.

As for which matters more, institutions or public opinion....You'll get no argument from me that institutions are VITALLY important. There is clearly an interaction between the two.

IF Iowa had California's rules I would not be nearly as optimistic. But it doesn't. So the important question from my point of view is how does the lack of evidence of a backlash combine with the institutional set up?

Pombat said...

Two things: firstly, I've seen quite a few informal commentators (blogs and the like) moving away from using "gay marriage" and instead using "equal marriage", or "marriage equality". I think this is a good thing, both because it's a more accurate description (no-one says "straight marriage" after all), and because as a rebranding exercise it's likely to win more support - whilst there are still many people who would readily identify as anti-gay, fewer would pick themselves as anti-equality. So, I'm going to use "equal marriage", and would like to suggest that we all do, just to get the phrase out there (unless anyone thinks it's a bad idea, in which case I'm open to an explanation why).

Second thing: can someone give me a comparison of Iowa and Massachusetts in terms of the demographic breakdown (ages, religious identification etc), and the legal structure in terms of how people in Massachusetts would go about removing the marriage equality that they've got there? I ask because it's lasted for five years thus far, which seems pretty good to me, and because I know next-to-nothing about Massachusetts...

Raised By Republicans said...

Hi Pombat,

I've gone back and forth on the "gay marriage" vs "marriage equality" language. But I take your point from a rhetorical point of view. I'll probably continue to go back and forth though simply because I'm not very good at remembering politically correct mandates.

RE: your second question, I looked up most of this stuff on wikipedia (age from census website)...

Mass has a population of 6.5 million. Mass is the 3rd most densely populated state in the US (so VERY urban) and has a population density of about 810 people/square mile. Nearly a quarter of Massachussets residents are of Irish decent. Another 13% are Italian and a further 13% are French-Canadian. 44% of the states residents are Roman Catholics. Baptists are the second biggest denomination with 4%. According to the 2000 census Mass had an median age of 36.5.

Iowa has 3 million people and a population density of 54 people/square mile (35th most densely populated). Iowa's population is not growing very fast but the population of the rural areas is shifting to the towns and cities pretty rapidly and 61% of the state now lives in "urban" areas (but I think they have a pretty generous definition of "urban"). There are nearly as many people in Iowa of Norwegian decent as there are Blacks and Hispanics combined. Over a third of Iowans are German. 52% of Iowans are Protestants and the largest single Protestant denomination is Lutheran (a fairly progressive mainstream denomination). Iowa's median age is 33.6 (nearly identical to Massachusset's).

But demographics is only a proxy for what we really want to know. How likely are Iowans as a group to participate in a some sort of anti-equality backlash?

One demographic doodad that LTG may find interesting...Only 6.6% of Iowans self identify their ethnicity as "American." Remember when we had that discussion about how opposition to Obama was highly correlated with the percentage of people who self identified their ethnicity as "American." Essentially, these ethnic "Americans" are the core of the rural, populist, intolerant branch of conservatism. Their absence from Iowa is noteworthy.

Another thing that is worth talking about is the influence on Iowan politics and culture of the Lutheran Church. This denomination is nearly as progressive as LTG's own Episcopal Church. It is also the dominant denomination in rural Iowa.

I don't mean to suggest that Iowa is more progressive than either Massachusetts or Connecticut. But if there is any heavily rural state that will support marriage equality, it would be either Iowa or Minnesota.

Raised By Republicans said...

I should add that 16% of people in Massachusetts report "no religion." There is no comparable number for Iowans with no religion.

Raised By Republicans said...

By the way, our friend Bert Q. Slushbrow sent me this link to a video clip of Iowa's Senate Majority Leader, D- Council Bluffs (a district that voted 50% to 48% in favor of McCain!), shooting down an abortive attempt to amend the constitution in the Iowa Senate.

I think this development is important for our little discussion here for two reasons. First, this means there can be no more attempts to amend the constitution for several years. Second, Gronstal is exactly the kind of Democrat LTG expected would be unwilling to risk their political futures on this issue and would roll over. He's from a swing district and can't win without Republican crossover votes.

Item of note: Gronstal means "Green Valley" in Scandinavian so he is probably of either Norwegian, Swedish or Danish decent. That means he's probably Lutheran.

Second item of note: I was reading an entry on Daily Kos by a Democrat from Des Moines who speculates that Big Ag in Iowa may oppose a constitutional convention because of their fear that control over large hog farms would be transfered to local authorities - a move that has significant bi-partisan support.

The Law Talking Guy said...

It's very early, RBR. I'm glad Mr. Gronstal is making some parliamentary maneuvers now, but I read the demographics differently than you. Iowa passed a law banning same-sex marriage in 1997, fairly early in the marriage wars, and that is the law that was just overturned. Wisconsin voters approved a constitutinoal ban on gay marriage in 2006. North Dakota did that in 2004. South Dakota has such a constitutinoal amendment also. Minnesota adopted a statute bannning same sex marriage in 1997, again fairly early. This Iowa Supreme Court decision is really quite an outlier for the region.

A good gauge of the same-sex marriage issue can be seen in whether the state created domestic partnerships or civil unions. The only states with such laws have oceanic coastlines. And what is surprising is that such laws exist in every Pacific state except Alaska, and every Atlantic state north of Virginia. But none in the heartland or the south. But for the Iowa Supreme Court decision, the lay of the land for same sex marriage in Iowa looks just like the rest of the region.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Pombat - Massachusetts is widely regarded as the most liberal state in the country, excepting possibly Vermont. It is urban, educated, and wealthy. For historical reasons related to the large influx of Irish, Portuguese, and Italian immigrants, it has a Catholic majority, something that would have been unthinkable there 150 years ago at the seat of puritan America. Massachusetts is also small and part of New England, which may be better analyzed as a whole New England is the region east of New York, but not including New York. Two states there have same sex marriage (MA and CT), and two othes (VT and NH) are about to pass it through their legislatures, although the final fate remains uncertain. All six states have civil union or domestic partnership laws equivalent to marriage.

The reason for this all is quite simple. When people talk about the "liberal elite" they mean, usually, people educated in and/or around New England. The only significant dissent is Roman Catholic, but they are working class/Union voters whose clergy routinely irk the Vatican with their unorthodox views, and they do not vote Republican because of the union/class issue. Also because the Republicans were opposed to Catholic immigration for two centuries.

For these reasons, politics in New England is almost one-party politics. Massachusetts Republicans have only 16 of 160 seats in the lower house and only 5 of 40 seats in the upper house. Moderate Republicans who are pro-choice, anti-death penalty, and pro-civil-union, but fiscally conservative (i.e., liberal but cheap rather than liberal) can win statewide elections for governor's races, but that's their only competition. In that respect, they are similar to California politics.

Raised By Republicans said...

I still think LTG is refusing to admit that there is a feature of politics in the upper midwest that he is deeply and profoundly ignorant about (having never even visited the region for more than a few days).

The 12 year old law that LTG mentions is certainly something to look at. But I've had numerous discussions with people who make their livings off studying Iowa politics in particular - and they agree with me that there is often a backlash against who ever is seen as disrupting the peace/status quo. In 1997 the issue was successfully spun as one in which Gay activists were pushing to change things. People responded against them.

What this supreme court ruling - and the highly publicized progress in other parts of the country does - is change the perception of what "normal" is. I really think that by the time 2013 comes around, it will be the Bigots for Jesus who are seen as the boat rockers.

Pombat, LTG is right that Massachusetts is rich and educated. But it's not like Iowans are barefoot yokels with straw hats and rags for pants. LTG would have you believe that there is an undifferentiated swath of the country outside the costal areas that is characterized by poverty, ignorance and intolerance. He is wrong.

Politics in the middle of the country is far more complex than his simplistic view will allow for.

The Law Talking Guy said...

RBR wants you to believe that Iowa is just like the East Coast or Berkeley, only smarter, happier, and cheaper to live in. It's not really so (although it sure as heck is cheaper to live in). And the fact that RBR lives there does not mean that he, alone, may opine about the politics of the area. If so, he can stop talking about California.

Whatever RBR may want to believe, the fact is that upper midwest is significantly more conservative than the coasts on almost any measure. That is why it is presidential election battleground. I note that RBR does not seem to want to discuss the fact that marriage equality is - with the exception of this latest Iowa decision- not doing very well in the upper Midwest. Not just the "12 year old law" but the fact there isn't even a statewide domestic partnership registration in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc.

RBR is incorrect that I am equating the upper midwest with the South. That's a straw man and he knows it. The South is WAY out there. But he needs to admit that, while the certain parts of the upper midwest are be more progressive, it remains a relatively conservative area overall. It is older, whiter, more churchgoing, more rural, and more evangelical than the coasts. South Dakota, for example, recently banned abortion in all cases, including rape or incest. These are realities.

What RBR is hearkening back to is that there was, in the early-mid 20th century, a real strain of genuine progressivism in the upper midwest. Politically, true progressives organized first in the midwest, before the coasts. The problem is that - like newspaper circulation and good penmanship -- traditional midwestern progressivism has been on the wane since the 1970s.

In fact this is why the Republicans held their convention in St. Paul in 2008. The GOP *almost* won Minnesota and Wisconsin in the presidential races in 2000 and 2004, and did score a significant win Iowa in 2004. Republicans after Reagan considered the upper midwest to be a growth area for the GOP. Tommy Thompson, Mitch Pawlenty, and other hard-right GOP governors were elected there. The "reform party" with Jesse Ventura and Dean Barkeley did well in Minnesota. It was doubtful going into 2005 whether we would continue to view this areas blue or even purple states.

The pitch being made to midwesterners was one of solidarity with the south. The "heartland" versus the "coasts." This pitch was not crazy. The point is that what made the midwest different from the South was on the wane in the 1980s and 1990s.

Democrats finally reversed the Republican trend in the midwest in 2006 and 2008, because of how far right Bush went. I hope that the 2006-2008 elections signal a significant shift in the region towards more progressive politics, and this Iowa SC decision is terrific.

But I do not think that the turn-of-the-last century farmer/labor coalition of good old Scandinavian progressives is at work or really coming back. Robert LaFollette is gone. So (at last) are the Humphrey clan. The GOP has simply become too ideological, non-pragmatic, and incompetent over the past few years to continue to grow there. What happened in 2006 and 2008 was not a return to some sort of cultural memory of progressivism, but the ability of a savvier coast-based Democratic party with a midwestern (Chicago) leader who spoke softly on social issues (no gun control, etc.) to make inroads against an increasingly bizarre GOP that had alienated many in the midwest with its incompetence and ideologizing.

To sum up: yes, the midwest is different from the south, but it remains much more conservative by any measure than the coasts. And what we see in the resurgence of Democrats in this region is not the revival or survival of and Old Progressivism but the triumph of a new, more centrist Democratic party.

The Law Talking Guy said...

RBR, I still love you, man.

Raised By Republicans said...

LTG, you mischaracterize what I am saying badly. I have actually made a point of saying "I don't mean to suggest that Iowa is more progressive than either Massachusetts or Connecticut. "

What I object to is when you base your arguments about Iowa on general impressions of what politics is like in what are typically thought of as "red states" and then assume that those patterns apply to Iowa with equal validity.

Its not only that you keep implying that the Midwest and the South are similarly part of the "bible belt" or that social conservatism is equally powerful in both regions (and then deny that's what you meant). It's that you refuse to acknowledge the possibility of variation within the Midwestern region and across time.

Also, LTG, you really don't know anything about the kinds of Democrats we've elected here in Iowa. You seem to be making a blanket statement about Democratic success in the Midwest based on some overall impression of the 2006 election. But you really don't know specifically if the new Democratic politicians in Iowa are of the Tester variety or not. You are just assuming it based on stereotype and prejudice.

The reality is mixed. Yes there are some moderates but they aren't so "centrist" as to be confused with centrist Republicans - not even by one of Nader's gang. But two of the three major new Democratic wins in 2006 are solidly liberal.

According to Issues 2000:
New guys (won office first since 2006):
Governor Chet Culver (D- IA) is a "moderate liberal populist" (but not a straight up centrist).
Dave Loebsack (D-IA, 2nd) is a "hard core liberal"
Bruce Braley (D-IA, 1st) is a "populist leaning liberal"

Old guys (in office since before 2006):
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) is a famous "hard core liberal"
Len Boswell (D-IA, 3rd) is an older guy and is a "moderate liberal populist"

Raised By Republicans said...

I should add that while Culver has been prevaricating about marriage equality, the Democratic leadership in the Assembly (both houses) and Culver's own Attorney General are solidly and publicly behind supporting the Supreme Court ruling.

This leads me to assert - yet again - that LTG is incorrect in his assessment of the Iowa Democratic party as being a bunch of weak kneed "centrists" who really aren't real Democrats like those on the coasts.

Raised By Republicans said...

Let me state this one more time for emphasis LTG. It is not just that you have implied several times that there is little difference between the South and the Midwest. It is that you have been making very strong claims using lines of argument that are based on sweeping generalizations about a complex and varied part of the country about which you know very little.

The Law Talking Guy said...

What, no love?