“You could marry your lawnmower with this decision,” Iowa Congressman Steve King said last week about the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.
Something about that statement didn’t seem very… accurate. But hey, this is an elected member of the U.S. Congress, responsible for crafting the nation’s laws. So Starting Line decided to do a little fact-checking of our own on this topic. That’s right, I actually tried to marry my lawnmower.
I wheeled her out of the garage, placed her in the car and took her down to the Polk County Recorder’s office in downtown Des Moines to get our marriage license (you can buy a wedding registry gift for us here). After rolling my bride-to-be into the administration building, I sat down with Polk County Recorder Julie Haggerty to ask her if I could, in fact, marry my lawnmower. Watch the video to see what happened:
If you can’t watch the video right now, here’s the transcript from my conversation with Haggerty:
Me: Hi Julie, so I came by the Recorder’s office today because I want to get a marriage license. For myself and my lawnmower.
Haggerty: Ok, the answer to that would be no. First of all – well, I should back up a bit and say how old is your lawnmower?
Me: Maybe six or seven years.
Haggerty: You have to be 18 years old to get a marriage license. And the other person, the other party needs to be able to sign a contract, has to have a government ID, and has to be able to have a witness who says they can enter into a contract. So I think on those counts alone you can’t marry your lawnmower.
Me: Now is it because I’m already married to a woman? Would I have to divorce her first? With the stuff Steve King is saying, it seems like everything is fair game now.
Haggerty: See, I should probably have asked that question first, are you married? Because if you’re still married, obviously you can’t enter into a contract.
Me: Ok, so no marriage with my lawnmower?
Haggerty: No marriage because you’re married, and no marriage with a lawnmower because it’s an inanimate object. You cannot marry a lawnmower.
Me: What about a snow blower?
Haggerty: [shakes head no]
So there you have it, readers: Steve King is wrong. You cannot marry your lawnmower, as explained by Haggerty for a number of reasons:
– It’s an inanimate object
– It would have to be 18 years old
– It doesn’t have a government ID
– It would have to sign a contract
– You need a witness to confirm it can give consent to enter into a contract (my mower only makes revving noises, so I doubt it could do this)
This will certainly be bad news for the exactly zero people who wanted to marry one of their lawn and garden equipments (could you have claimed common law marriage if it’s lived with you in your garage for years?). It’s good news, however, for the proponents of marriage equality who accurately argued that legalizing gay marriage would not lead to any of the outlandish “slippery slope” situations opponents predicted.
But whatever, go ahead Steve King. Keep insinuating that two loving gay men or women entering into marriage is as bizarre and unnatural as someone marrying their lawnmower. See how far ridiculous statements like that get the Republican Party in the 21st Century. It may be funny to you, but Republicans’ desire to reverse the ruling and invalidate many Americans’ marriages is no laughing matter to them, their family or friends.
Most Republican candidates for president may not share King’s love of incendiary or dumb comments, but their actual policy on gay marriage is no different than his. And they’re more than happy to appear with King when traveling through Northwest Iowa.
One final note: next time, Congressman King, suggest marrying a tractor. Do you have any idea how much fun us headline writers would have working in Kenny Chesney’s “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” song into a title?
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by Pat Rynard