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Anti-retention leaders: Iowa just the start of national gay marriage battle
DES MOINES — Their organized push to oust three state Supreme Court justices may be coming to an end when voters go to the polls next week, but local and national leaders of the campaign said flatly on Thursday that Iowa is simply the first fight of a large-scale battle over gay rights in America.
Speaking in Des Moines on the final stop of a 20-city bus tour sponsored by his organization, Tony Perkins of the Washington-D.C. based Family Research Council said the Iowa Supreme Court justices, “unleashed chaos on the state of Iowa and the entire nation,” when they ruled unanimously in April 2009 that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Perkins said if Iowans vote “no” on retention, “you will send a message that goes around this country that Americans have had enough and we’re taking our country back and we’re starting right here in Iowa with this Supreme Court.”
Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, said in a previous interview with The Iowa Independent that national anti-gay organizations have descended on Iowa in such large numbers because they want to “test in Iowa whether or not they can do something” about gay marriage. A handful of the nation’s most influential social conservative organizations — from the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage to the Mississippi-based American Family Association — have united to spend nearly $1 million on the campaign to oust the judges thus far.
“People need to be aware that it seems this year all of the very right wing organizations have Iowa in their sights,” Ryan Terrell said in a phone interview. “That’s a scary proposition for our state and should be a red flag to Iowans.
Chuck Hurley, president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, addressed the issue of same-sex marriage immediately in his remarks to the crowd, saying it violates natural law.
“Any middle school child knows that marriage between a man and a man or a woman and woman is not rooted in eternal law or natural law,” he said. “That is the really critical foundational problem with what this court has tried to do.”
The “no” on retention movement has repeatedly said that same-sex marriage is just one of many reasons the judges deserve to be ousted from the bench. In an interview with The Iowa Independent following the rally, Hurley said he’s heard several other reasons why people are ready to oust the judges, but that same-sex marriage was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Former GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bob Vander Plaats — who founded the organization Iowa for Freedom in August specifically to target the three Supreme Court justices on the ballot — agreed with Hurley’s assessment that same-sex marriage is the driving issue behind the campaign.
“For me, we are standing up for the institution of marriage, who’s total design is procreation,” Vander Plaats said. “Marriage is the issue, but every freedom is now up for grabs.”
Tamara Scott of the Concerned Women of America’s Iowa chapter likened the justices to misbehaving children.
“If a child is misbehaving and they get by with it, do they usually stop on their own or do they get a bit more brazen?” she said. “We found that just like children the legislature and the judges too behave better when they know adults are watching.”
Scott urged the crowd to vote “no” on retention because, “if you rise up you will see states calling, other people from other states phoning and e-mailing and coming to find out how you did it because they too want to take their state back.”
Judicial retention was established in Iowa in the 1960s. It has never resulted in a judge being ousted from the bench, and rarely has it ever generated much political interest. Vander Plaats said the reason this year is different is because the court went after the institution of marriage and opened the door to things like incest and polygamy.
“If this were a true civil rights case – if – [the justices] actually wrote discrimination into the ruling, they wrote only ‘same sex’ – you and I both know there are polygamists out there who want to marry three four other women, or gay, lesbian, transgender bisexuals that want to marry one man and one woman, why limit it?” he said.