February 12, 2016

Cruz, Huckabee, Jindal speak at National Religious Liberty Conference (AUDIO)

Three GOP presidential candidates made a direct appeal to nearly 1700 Christian conservatives at this weekend’s National Religious Liberties Conference in Des Moines. Each of the candidates denounced this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee called it “judicial tyranny.”

“They are the supreme court. They are not the supreme branch or the supreme being. They can’t make law,” Huckabee said, to cheers and whistles.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said the fight over same-sex marriage “is not going away.”

“No Earthly court can change the definition of marriage, no federal government, no ACLU should be able to take away our religious liberty rights,” Jindal said, to applause. “We were given those by God almighty.”

Huckabee and Jindal spoke Friday morning (listen to their speeches here). Texas Senator Ted Cruz spoke early Friday evening. Cruz called the decision “fundamentally illegitimate.”

“Courts do not make law and nothing in the constitution supports that lawless decision,” Cruz said, to applause and cheers.

AUDIO of Cruz’s appearance (the microphone was cut off at the end by the event host), 15:00

Pastor Kevin Swanson, the event’s organizer who moderated on-stage discussions with each of the candidates, said the same-sex marriage ruling violates God’s law.

“Jesus Christ is king of kings and lord of lords. He is king of the president of the United States whether he will admit it or not and that president should submit to his rule and to his law. Amen,” Swanson said, to applause and affirmations of “Amen” from the crowd.

Cruz said now is not a “typical time” and there must be “an awakening” among Christian conservatives in 2016. Of the estimated 90 million evangelical Christians in America, Cruz told the crowd 66 percent did not vote in the 2012 presidential election.

“Is it any wonder the federal government is waging a war on life, on marriage, on religious liberty when Christians are staying home and our leaders are being elected by non-believers?” Cruz asked the crowd, the vast majority of whom were from out-of-state.

Pastor Rafael Cruz, the senator’s father, was also a speaker at the conference later Friday evening and he told the crowd his son was “the man of the hour.”

House panel to investigate complaints about conference for LGBTQ youth

Bobby Kaufmann

Bobby Kaufmann

The chairman of the Oversight Committee in the Iowa House will hold a hearing next month to air complaints about a yearly anti-bullying conference for Iowa students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning their sexuality.

Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton says he’s heard from parents who allege “obscene material” was presented at the conference that “would not have made the cut in an R-rated movie.”

The Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth is hosted by Iowa Safe Schools. The non-profit group is not associated with the governor or state government, but Kaufmann says some Iowa schools used taxpayer dollars to shuttle students to the conference.

Iowa Safe Schools executive director Nate Monson says the hearing will wind up being a “witch hunt” against homosexual kids. The Democratic leader in the Iowa House says Republicans are seeking a “phony excuse” to kill an anti-bullying bill for the fourth year in a row.

About 600 Iowa teenagers and 400 parents and teachers attended this past spring’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth. The House Oversight Committee hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, November 18. A staffer who works for Republican legislators says the names of those who’ll testify will be released closed to that date.

Congressman King suggests Kentucky clerk deserves Rosa Parks Award

Congressman Steve King. (file photo)

Congressman Steve King. (file photo)

Republican Congressman Steve King has taken to Twitter to say that if the courts can command a Kentucky clerk to violate her religious beliefs and issue same-sex marriage licenses, then the courts can order same-sex marriage ceremonies at “any altar” in a church, synagogue or mosque.

“If the state legislature had passed a same-sex marriage piece of legislation, if that happened in each of the states, then I’d accept that decision as the voice of the people and constitutional, but the Supreme Court has not only violated the constitution, they have amended it and manufactured a new right,” King said Tuesday during a telephone interview with KSCJ Radio. “What are we for as American citizens? I think that’s what we are going to have to answer.”

Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was found in contempt of court and jailed when she refused to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, was released from jail yesterday. Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz were in Kentucky, holding a rally for Davis, when Davis walked on stage and spoke to the crowd.

“Cheers for Huckabee and Cruz, whoever else has stepped up to defend Kim Davis,” King said. “I think she deserves the Rosa Parks Award.”

Rosa Parks, an African American who was arrested for not giving up her bus seat to a white passenger, was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights movement. There are many scholarships, awards and events around the country that carry the Rosa Parks name. Many Rosa Parks Awards are given by NAACP chapters.

(Reporting to Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)

Young says a ‘public official’ should follow court’s orders

Republican Congressman David Young suggests the rule of law should be followed, whether it’s a so-called “sanctuary city” refusing to deport undocumented immigrants or the Kentucky clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“I’m sympathetic with her views and I understand there are people who feel that way about same-sex marriage,” Young says, “but at the same time she is a public official.”

Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, has been held in contempt of court and she’s been in jail since last Thursday. Congressman Young says he’s interested to see how her case plays out in the courts.

“Also interested to see what the nexus is when it comes to private institutions like churches and mosques and synagogues, if there’s ever a challenge there, how that would play out,” Young says. “So this is still fluid, this issue. It very much is.”

Young, a first-term congressman from Van Meter, represents Iowa’s third district. He made his comments during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that will air this Friday night on Iowa Public Television.

Big crowd turns out for Ted Cruz’s Rally for Religious Liberty


Ted Cruz stage at his rally.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz hosted a “Rally for Religious Liberty” in Des Moines tonight that drew nearly 3000 people.

“You want to know what this election is about?” Cruz asked the crowd. “We are one justice away from the Supreme Court saying, ‘Every image of God shall be torn down.'”

At one point in the evening, Cruz sat on stage and interviewed a Grimes couple who were sued after they refused to allow the wedding chapel they own be used for a same-sex wedding.

“Let me ask you what a cynic, what a skeptical person, what a cynical person might say, which is: Why didn’t you just give in? What didn’t you just agree to allow the same-sex wedding?” Cruz asked.

Betty Odegaard responded: “We could not celebrate a sin. We could not take part in what we believe is a sin.”

The crowd gave Odegaard a lengthy standing ovation for that. Congressman Steve King also addressed the crowd. While King didn’t endorse Cruz, King made it clear he’s been following Cruz’s career for a decade, since Cruz argued a religious liberty case before the U.S. Supreme Court about the display of The 10 Commandments.

“I’m glad we have a leader who has stepped up for our religious freedom, defended the words ‘under God’, Hobby Lobby, The Ten Commandments — over and over again — the Boy Scouts — that all came from Ted Cruz,” King said. “He’s brought us here together here tonight to pray and to learn and to go out of here energized.”

Pastor Michael Demastus of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ delivered the opening prayer.

“Forgive us, God. We repent, but there are people here, thousands across our land who say: ‘We want our country back!'” Demastus prayed.

The Bontrager Family Singers of Kalona, a popular Christian group featuring 10 siblings and their parents, have endorsed Cruz and gave a half hour concert before the rally started. Cruz was the evening’s closer and a murmur went through the crowd when he said 54 Evangelical Christians “did not vote in the last election.”

“You wonder why we have a federal government that comes after our free speech rights, that comes after our religious liberty, that comes after life, that comes after marriage, that comes after our values. It is because 54 million Evangelical Christians stayed home. Well, I’m here to tell you: ‘We will stay home no longer!'” Cruz said and the crowd stood to applaud and cheer.

Cruz closed the rally with a prayer, then the Newsboys, a popular Christian group, performed a concert. A small group of protesters shouting, “Citizenship Now,” were escorted out of the hall during Cruz’s speech. Earlier in the day, during Cruz’s visit to the Iowa State Fair, Cruz was confronted by an actress who is gay. Ellen Page and Cruz had a six-minute back-and-forth. with Page arguing a religious liberty defense had been used in the past to excuse discrimination based on race and gender.

(Photo courtesy of Ted Cruz’s Twitter)

Poll: 55 percent of Iowa voters oppose same-sex marriage ban

QuinnipiacA new poll tests the views of registered Iowa voters on two controversial issues: climate change and same-sex marriage.

The data comes from a Quinnipiac University Poll conducted over a 12-day period in July. The poll finds 55 percent of registered Republican, Democrat and independent voters oppose an amendment to the U.S. constitution that would ban same-sex marriage.

Fifty-eight percent of Iowa voters oppose letting businesses refuse, in general, to serve gays and lesbians, but they were “conflicted” about whether a person who opposes same-sex marriage because of their religious views should be forced to do business with same-sex couples. Forty-six percent said yes, they should and 46 percent said no, they shouldn’t.

On the issue of climate change, the poll found 65 percent of voters agree with the pope’s call for action on the issue, although there is a difference among the parties. Democrats almost universally agree with Pope Francis and 60 percent of independents do as well, but Republicans are almost evenly divided, with 44 percent of the Iowa GOP voters surveyed said they disagree with the pope.

The Quinnipiac Poll also tested voters views on some of the issues being discussed by presidential candidates. The survey found 53 percent of Iowa voters oppose the Affordable Care Act. The poll found 55 percent of Iowa voters say it’s time for action to address income inequality and 60 percent support raising taxes on the wealthy to reduce taxes on middle income Americans.

The Iowans polled gave President Obama a 56 percent disapproval rating.

King seeks House vote on same-sex marriage ruling

Steve King (file photo)

Steve King (file photo)

Republican Congressman Steve King is trying to get the U.S. House to pass a resolution that says States “may refuse” to recognize or license same-sex marriages, although such non-binding resolutions do not have the force of law. King’s resolution is his latest response to last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

“We’re in a place where the Supreme Court has put themselves above the law, above the Constitution and above the will of the people,” King said Thursday evening during a speech on the House floor.

Most Republicans in congress have publicly expressed opposition to the court’s ruling, so the resolution would likely pass, although House leaders have not indicated it’s a priority for debate. King’s House Resolution embraces what he calls the “traditional definition of marriage” as a “union between one man and one woman.”

“The domestic life of America has been dramatically transformed by the order of the Supreme Court,” King said.

King calls the court’s same-sex marriage opinion a “blatant act of judicial activism” that has “perverted” the word marriage.

“And they will impose it on the rest of the country because they’re the ‘enlightened five’ of nine in black robes,” King said. “Well, the Supreme Court has had a terrible record on dealing with large domestic issues.”

King cites the court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision which ruled African Americans weren’t citizens and the federal government had no authority to restrict or regulate slavery and the 1962 decision that ruled mandatory prayer in public schools is unconstitutional.

Earlier this year, before the court’s ruling on same-sex marriage last month, King tried to get congress to pass legislation that would forbid the federal courts from deciding such cases, but that legislation stalled.