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Outlawing gay marriage will improve the economy, activist says
There are taxpayer costs associated with the breakdown of the family, so overturning legalized same-sex marriage would go a long way to improve the nation’s sagging economy, according to Tamara Scott, one of several speakers at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) rally at the state Capitol in Des Moines Sunday afternoon.
NOM, a New Jersey-based anti-gay marriage organization, announced last year that it would launch a new initiative called The Reclaim Iowa Project, with the goal of getting a constitutional amendment before Iowa voters reversing the unanimous ruling of the Iowa Supreme Court that the state’s Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. Sunday’s rally was part of a nationwide tour of 22 cities designed to build public opposition to same-sex marriage.
Scott, the state director for Concerned Women for America, told the crowd of more than 100 that part of the country’s current economic downturn was to blame on the social costs of the threatened traditional family unit through the legalization of gay marriage.
“It costs you, the taxpayer, as high as $280 billion a year for fragmented families, according to the Family Research Council,” Scott told the crowd, citing a study from the D.C.-based Christian political association from May 2009.
“If we would correct the breakdown of the family by 1 percent, we could save the taxpayer $3 billion a year,” she said. “An easy fix and a better fix long term for our children… When the family is healthy, the community benefits. When the family is hurting, society will pay the cost one way or another. We can fix this economic downturn very easily by fixing some hearts.”
Scott called on the crowd to speak up as neighbors and as community members, saying they had bigger impact at the ground level.
“To sit back and do nothing, you become part of the problem,” she said. “We all need to help out. It’s too big for any of us. There’s plenty of evil to go around.”
Scott’s statements are contradicted at least in part by a 2008 study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, which estimated that same-sex weddings and related tourism would bring $160 million to the state of Iowa through 2011, and an extra $5.3 million per year in tax revenue.
Former state Rep. Danny Carroll, who serves as chairman of the Iowa Family Policy Center’s political action committee, opened the rally by asking attendees if they had been consulted on the legalization of same-sex marriage.
“Were you ever being invited to a public hearing as that policy was being deliberated? Did you see any editorial or opinions in the news media as that policy was being deliberated?” Carroll asked. “We had a major shift in policy on marriage and you had no input whatsoever, you simply woke up one morning, and you were told, this is the way it’s going to be. This fall in November, the people will have a chance to be heard.”
Several Republican officeholders and political hopefuls were also in attendance, including Dave Leach, who is running for state Senate District 31 in Des Moines against Democratic incumbent Matt McCoy. Leach was circulating the rally handing out fliers, but stopped to tell The Iowa Independent, “I am running against Iowa’s chief sodomite.” McCoy is the first openly gay member of Iowa’s General Assembly.
Also in the crowd was Jonathan Narcisse, who was collecting the signatures he needs in order to appear as an independent candidate for governor on the November ballot.
“There’s no question, regardless of where you are in this issue, that the (Iowa Supreme Court) judges clearly usurped their authority, and that’s not how our society functions,” he said. “I absolutely believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that Iowans ought to have a right to vote on that.”
On the other side of downtown at Western Gateway Park, a pro-gay marriage rally was organized by One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBT-rights organizations. Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy and Iowa First Lady Mari Culver headlined the event.
In an interview, Culver told The Iowa Independent she was speaking on behalf of herself at the event, not her husband, who is running for re-election this fall.
“I’m a lawyer by trade,” she said. “We are a country and state of laws. The court has ruled and I think we need to accept this.”
When asked about Scott’s assertion that upholding the “traditional family” unit translated to a more stable economy, Culver disagreed.
“Heterosexuals have not done a great job with marriage and the family,” she said, pointing to statistics that half of all marriages fail. “I think a strong middle class makes a strong economy. I think (NOM) is looking for some economic cover, rather than revealing that some in their group are simply anti-gay.”
Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, reiterated to the crowd his promise that as long as Democrats are in charge of the legislature, a vote on same-sex marriage will never take place.
“There should be no discrimination in this state’s constitution,” he said. “If you elect us and keep us with you, we will continue that right for at least two more years and more like four years or six years.”