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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

(Photo: Richard Settle/flickr)
(Photo: Richard Settle/flickr)

Grassley, King press importance of DOMA during Senate hearing

By Lynda Waddington | 07.21.11 | 5:01 pm

The two members of Iowa’s federal delegation who took part in historic Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on possible repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act remained adamant that the federal prohibition on recognition of same-sex marriage needs to remain.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is ranking member of the Judiciary Committee and noted his disapproval for possible repeal and non-defense of DOMA in his opening remarks.

Chuck Grassley

“The bill before us today is entitled the Respect for Marriage Act. George Orwell would have marveled at the name,” Grassley said. “A bill to respect marriage would restore marriage as it has been known — as between one man and one woman.”

Echoing what his staff told The Iowa Independent in advance of the Congressional hearing, Grassley added, “That is the view of marriage that I support.”

The Respect for Marriage Act, HR 1116, and Respect for Marriage Act of 2011, S 598, are identical bills. The House version was introduced in March by U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, and the Senate version was introduced at the same time by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat.

Both seek to repeal the now 15-year-old law that defines marriage as being only between a man and a woman, and denies legally married same-sex married couples the same federal rights and protections afforded to opposite-sex couples. For instance, such couples in Iowa can file state returns jointly, but cannot do the same with their federal tax returns. Likewise, same-sex couples are barred from receiving spousal benefits under Social Security and aren’t covered by unpaid family leave laws.

Grassley noted that the law was passed by Congress in 1996 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. He said the measure passed by an 85-to-41 vote in the U.S. Senate, making it “truly a bipartisan bill,” and he added that many of those now supporting repeal voted favorably for the bill at the time.

“One of the witnesses before us today says DOMA was passed for only one reason — to express disapproval for gay and lesbian people. I know this to be false,” Grassley said, his voice rising. “Senators at the time … and representatives at the time … did not support DOMA to express disapproval of gay and lesbian people. Neither did I.”

U.S. Rep. Steve King was one of three U.S. House members and the only Republican to provide testimony. The Congressional panel included U.S. Reps. Nadler and John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, with King being the lone advocate for continuance of DOMA.

Lewis, for instance, described the law as “a stain on our American society” and equated it to civil rights challenges previously faced by interracial couples: “Civil rights, human rights, these are issues of dignity.”

King focused his comments on the historical importance of marriage as a building block of society worldwide.

Steve King

“DOMA was passed in 1996 because Congress and President Clinton understood that civil society has an interest in maintaining and protecting the institution of heterosexual marriage because it has a deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing.”

The proposed legislation, according to King, insinuates that the government no longer has these interests.

“The other side argues that you can’t choose who you love, and that a union between two men or two women is equal to that of one man and one woman. But these are the same arguments that could be used to promote marriage between fathers and daughters, mothers and sons or even polygamous relationships,” he said.

King, who helped author and pass Iowa’s now defunct law barring same-sex marriage, also voice his displeasure with the situation in Iowa.

“In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a lawless decision in Varnum v. Brien. Seven Iowa Supreme Court justices decided to legislate from the bench. They struck down Iowa’s DOMA law, and to read their decision brings one to the conclusion that these justices believe they have the authority to find the Constitution itself unconstitutional,” he said.

“They even went so far as to say that rights to same-sex marriage ‘were at one time unimagined.’ When Iowans went to polls on November 2, 2010, they sent a message to the Supreme Court of Iowa. They rejected the Varnum decision and historically ousted all three justices who were up for retention, including Chief Justice Marsha Ternus.”

The Iowa Supreme Court determined that “Iowa Code section 595.2 violates the equal protection provision of the Iowa Constitution.” Section 595.2 discussed the gender and age requirements for a marriage to be recognized by the state. The first provision was the state’s DOMA, which stated “only a marriage between a male and a female is valid.”

From the Varnum decision:

Iowa Code section 595.2 is unconstitutional because the County has been unable to identify a constitutionally adequate justification for excluding plaintiffs from the institution of civil marriage. A new distinction based on sexual orientation would be equally suspect and difficult to square with the fundamental principles of equal protection embodied in our constitution. This record, our independent research, and the appropriate equal protection analysis do not suggest the existence of a justification for such a legislative classification that substantially furthers any governmental objective. Consequently, the language in Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman must be stricken from the statute, and the remaining statutory language must be interpreted and applied in a manner allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil marriage.

Noting that the Obama administration directed the U.S. Department of Justice to no longer defend DOMA, King said “it is not the role of the executive branch to determine what is an is not constitutional.” The role of the executive branch, he concluded, “is to execute and uphold the laws that Congress enacts.”

Video of the full committee hearing is available on the Senate Judiciary Committee website.

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  • Anonymous

    Oh, Rep. King.  Whether you choose to accept it or not, Iowa has been throughout its history a predominantly progressive state, with a greater will to do what is right than what is traditional.  

    150 years ago, perhaps, gay marriage was unimagined, but clearly it was never unimaginable.  Now it has come up, and the ban on it put to a constitutional test and found wanting.  Our supreme court has correctly defended constitutionally established equal rights, rather than ignoring the Constitution for the sake of a tradition of discrimination.  You can decry it as ‘legislat(ing) from the bench’ as much as you want, but it was a fair and well-thought judicial determination, and entirely within their constitutional roles.   

    We’ve moved forward, while you seem stuck in the past, and desperate to stay there.  Now the US is poised to follow suit, and you seem desperate to fight it.  Like George Wallace, you think that the weight of tradition and the loud support of a dwindling number of the ignorant, the fearful, and the bigoted will bear you above the tides of history.  Like George Wallace, you are wrong, and your error will become your defining moment and your legacy.

  • Anonymous

    Whenever I look at a photo of King, it strikes me that the act of smiling seems completely foreign and unnatural to him. In the photo above, he looks like he is about ready to bite you. The guy just has “creepy” written all over him.

    A correction to King’s comments, “some sheeple voters” sent a warped message when Iowa voters went to the polls.

    Hypocrisy alert – King said “it is not the role of the executive branch to determine what
    is an is not constitutional.” The role of the executive branch, he
    concluded, “is to execute and uphold the laws that Congress enacts.”

    I guess he had problems with the 161 signing statements The Shrub issued in his eight years but just didn’t get around to voicing his concerns.

    All I have to say to these guys, it’s time to retire.  Obviously, you are oblivious to the fact that your party has played a big part in lighting this country’s financial house on fire and all you can do is waste time with this stuff?

    By the way, hows that Jobs Bill coming along Steve-O?

  • egc52556

    Grassley has debased himself by associating with the theocratic bigots like King, Vander Plaats, Bachmann, and Perry.

    The so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” doesn’t do a d*mn thing except take away rights from Americans.  Repealing of anti-gay bigotry is happening all around Grassley and he doesn’t recognize it.  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is on the way out.  State after state is allowing same-sex marriage.  Younger voters don’t care about DOMA.

    Orwell indeed.  These people are so twisted up they think that hate is good.

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