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Video: Golding, Values Bus riders talk marriage in Marion
MARION — A handful of voters in Iowa Senate District 18 gathered in the Walmart parking lot Monday morning to hear from Republican candidate Cindy Golding and several social conservative groups that have supported her bid.
As is typically the case with most whistle stops of the Values Voter Bus in Iowa, members of the media nearly matched citizens who came out to hear directly from those concerned with cultural issues. This particular stop, however, wasn’t tied to the 2012 presidential election or an upcoming judicial retention election. Instead, the bus made its stop on behalf of Golding, who hopes to be elected during special polling Tuesday and change the balance of the Iowa Senate.
Iowa Democrats currently hold a slim 26-24 majority in the Senate chamber. The Tuesday special election, which pits Golding against Democrat Liz Mathis, will determine if the majority stands or if the Senate will be evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. Social conservatives have reached out to many voters in Senate District 18 because they believe removing the Democratic majority is key to moving forward with several items on their agenda, which includes taking the first of two legislative votes to place a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in Iowa before voters and further restrictions on abortion rights.
Golding spoke only briefly at the rally and left immediately after offering her remarks. Campaign staffers indicated that she was only barely able to fit the bus stop into her final push.
Golding told those attending that it isn’t social conservative groups like the National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Council, The Family Leader and others pushing to keep gay marriage in the spotlight, but a focus that has resulted from media coverage of the race.
“I want to point out something that maybe has been lost on a few people,” Golding said.
“How often has The [Cedar Rapids] Gazette chastised voters for being single issue? And did you see yesterday’s paper?,” she asked, a reference to an endorsement by The Gazette’s editorial board of Mathis. “The media has made this a single issue, not us.”
Marriage is, she said, “one of several issues” that should concern voters.
“We have a chance to change this state,” she said. “And it’s not one issue, it’s 83 percent of the bills that passed the House that we don’t get to debate on the floor of the Senate.”
But speakers who took the microphone after Golding departed made clear why they were supporting Golding and what they hoped to accomplish within the realm of cultural issues.
“The Iowa Senate is a graveyard,” warned Chuck Hurley, a former state representative affiliated with The Family Leader. “We do not pay salaries for senators to kill bills that the majority of Iowans want debated. It’s wrong. It’s tyrannical. Cindy Golding’s election would give us a breath of fresh air. It would give us a chance.”
Janene Paramore, a Cedar Rapids resident, said she didn’t realize how narrow the Democratic majority was in the Senate and, therefore, “how pivotal this vote is.”
“For me, it’s really about the points that were made here today — that so much legislation is not even being debate,” she told The Iowa Independent after the rally. “It seems like if we can just get Cindy in there then we can at least have some debate.
“I think one of the biggest problems today and why we are off the path of being Americans is because we don’t know what Americans believe anymore. Just like your memory makes you a person; that without it you don’t know who you are. We no longer know who we are as a nation. I think it is important that we actually debate these issues and are educating our people.”
Debbie Berberich, of Stone City, who also attended the rally, said, “I believe if we lose this, we also lose our culture. I’m talking about the values; the systems that make a country great and a family great and a person great. I believe that Cindy represents all of these things. I know her life. I know what she’s done, her activities, and I believe she is worth supporting.”
When Chris Plante, executive director of NOM Rhode Island, was asked after the rally if having an evenly split Iowa Senate would create an opening or break gridlock, he responded, “Could it be any worse than it is right now?”
Video from the rally is embedded below: