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Hurley says gay marriage offends God, calls for laws curbing homosexual acts
CARROLL — Within the span of an hour Tuesday, advocates on both sides of a raging debate over the retention of Iowa Supreme Court judges in next week’s elections made passionate pitches.
On a blustery basketball court at Southside Park, leaders in the push to oust three justices for their role in a decision that legalized gay marriage in Iowa — led by the Washington, D.C., based Family Research Council and the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage – departed a touring “Judge Bus” emblazoned with “vote no” slogans and spoke to a crowd of about 15 people.
Gay marriage is tearing society asunder, and the decision to allow it runs afoul of the Constitution, said Chuck Hurley, president of the highly influential Christian organization Iowa Family Policy Center, which is a local affiliate of the Family Research Council.
“It’s a degradation of God’s best design for the family,” said Hurley, who was on the tour representing the center’s political action arm.
Hurley said gay activity degrades and alters the family structure, concluding that the debate is about stable homes.
“An intact father-and- mother marriage is by far more important than a good education, by far more important than their physical health in the well-being of a child,” Hurley said.
Hurley goes further than opposition to gay marriage, though.
“For millennia every sane culture has had restraints on behavior,” Hurley said.
Stable societies have always had restraints on incest and pedophilia, he said, and that should extend to homosexual acts as well.
“Every culture should have safe and sane laws regarding sexuality,” Hurley said.
A few minutes later, a group of supporters of the judges — organized by the group Fair Courts for Us — said sending the three justices home on a single, emotional issue would jeopardize Iowa’s stable, politically detached judiciary. They should not be targets in a culture war, they contend.
“Iowa has a superb judiciary,” said Carroll attorney and former Lt. Gov. Art Neu. “It’s served us well.”
Neu, a Republican, is joined by former GOP Gov. Robert Ray and another former lieutenant governor, Democrat Sally Pederson, as co-chairs of Fair Courts.
Neu said voters should contrast the often dysfunctional federal courts appointment process with Iowa’s system.
“The point is they (Iowa Supreme Court judges) are doing it based on what they see the law to be — not some political agenda they have,” Neu said.
Voters who want to go single-issue on gay marriage can do so, Neu said, by training their anger on legislative candidates, those who make the laws.
“It shouldn’t be directed at the judiciary,” Neu said.
At the anti-judge rally, Republican Statehouse candidate Dan Dirkx said the justices’ decision is jeopardizing Iowa’s way of life.
“I see this ruling as a frontal attack on our culture,” Dirkx said. “America is suffering a heart attack. The rest of the nation looks to us to have good sense.”
Dirkx of rural Auburn, who is running for the House District 51 seat now held by State Rep. Rod Roberts, R-Carroll, compared the marriage case to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, and noted that legalized abortion is the result of court action, not the vote of the public or their representatives.
“We need to rise up and let them know that we understand why our form of government works,” Dirkx said.
Simply put, society should not give a stamp of approval to gay marriage, Dirkx said.
“When you offend God individually God will deal with you individually,” Dirkx said. “But when you offend God as a nation, that’s a different category.”
Pederson said the judicial system in Iowa is set up to be free of politics and money.
“Now what has happened is really a group funded by people from other states and from national organizations is trying to convince Iowans to change their system,” Pederson said. “This has never been done in the history of our state.”
Iowa voters have not tossed out a Supreme Court justice in the state’s history.
National anti-gay groups have spent around $700,000 to remove the justices, with the National Organization For Marriage contributing $435,000. Those working to retain the justices have spent around $227,000.
A “yes” vote maintains the integrity over the courts, and places that above anger over one decision, Pederson said. The judges have done their duties, she said.
“These justices have handed down thousands of decisions and over five decades Iowans have understood that you can disagree with any one decision but that doesn’t mean that you oppose a judge or a justice,” Pederson said. “You look at their record in totality.”
Iowans, she said, need to consider to the long term and what they want to motivate judges: a steely eyed look at the law or political consideration and contemporary public sentiments that at one point supported slavery and the subjugation of women, both issues with which the Iowa Supreme Court took a leading role in combating.
“We don’t want judges looking over their shoulders and holding their finger to the wind to find out what would the public want on this issue or that issue,” Pederson said.