July 5, 2015

Huckabee: shield same-sex marriage opponents from ‘persecution or prosecution’

Mike Huckabee.

Mike Huckabee.

Republican candidate Mike Huckabee promises that on his first day as president he’d issue an executive order to provide new legal protections to businesses, schools and religious institutions that oppose same-sex marriage.

“There will be no persecution or prosecution of those who wish to exercise the restraints and the deep felt convictions of their conscience and that this will be protected,” Huckabee said early this evening.

Huckabee has been a vocal critic of last Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Huckabee said, as president, he’d ask his attorney general to “vigorously protect the religious liberty” of Americans who oppose same-sex marriage.

“And not allow discrimination and bigotry to be applied toward those who have a conscience and who have convictions,” said Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who is also a former Baptist minister.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters, Huckabee was asked why his proposed executive orders weren’t similar to President Obama’s controversial executive orders which have tabled deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as a child.

“Creating something that isn’t in the Constitution or law is overreach,” Huckabee said. “Giving an executive order that mirrors the Constitution is the very purpose for which there is an executive order. Religious liberty is at the heart and soul of the Constitution and the First Amendment. Amnesty is not.”

Huckabee said the courts “simply don’t have the authority” to redefine marriage and he has suggested the U.S. Supreme Court’s chief justice “needs medication for schizophrenia” — a remark that drew criticism from the National Alliance on Mentally Illness. Huckabee briefly joked about the controversy tonight during remarks to a group of supporters gathered for the opening of his Iowa campaign headquarters in Urbandale.

“Sure, I’m going to be the one that will say the outrageous things that will get me in trouble and make you question your sanity for having signed up to help,” Huckabee joked.

Later, Huckabee told reporters it’s “easy to offend people” and he was simply trying to find a way to describe the divergent reasoning Justice Roberts offered in last week’s rulings on ObamaCare and same-sex marriage.

“I’ll be honest with you, if I were as bland and as colorless as some people would probably hope a candidate to be, you guys would have nothing to ever talk about,” Huckabee told the group of reporters, photographers and video camera operators surrounding him. “I mean I would give you nothing, so you’ve got to give me a little love here and realize that it is in the best interest of the public to have candidates who speak clearly and vividly and colorfully — not to offend, but to illustrate.”

Huckabee, who plans to campaign in each of Iowa’s 99 counties before the February 1st Iowa Caucuses, will hold town-hall meetings Wednesday in Council Bluffs, Sioux City and Cherokee. On Thursday he’ll hold meetings in Fort Dodge, Dubuque and Burlington.

(Photo by Asya Arca)

Branstad: up to GOP delegates to decide if same-sex marriage mentioned in GOP platform

Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad says it will be up to “grassroots” Republicans attending his party’s state convention whether the Iowa GOP’s 2016 platform continues to oppose same-sex marriage.

“It’s the delegates that make that decision and the last thing the delegates want is for the governor to tell them what they should include or not include in the platform,” Branstad says. “I do respect the process and the fact that it is a grassroots document developed by the delegates, not by the elected officials.”

Some of the Republican presidential candidates have suggested passage of laws to ensure those who have religious objections aren’t compelled to be a party to a same-sex marriage ceremony. The Texas Attorney General has told county officials in Texas they do not have to issue same-sex marriage licenses if they have a religious objection. Iowa’s Republican governor says people’s religious liberties shouldn’t be “taken for granted,” but Branstad is not suggesting that county officials in Iowa quit issuing same-sex marriage licenses here.

“I respect the division that occurs in this country on this controversial decision, but feel that we have an obligation to follow the law,” Branstad says.

Branstad says same-sex marriage is “well established” in Iowa after the state supreme court ruled in 2009 that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

“Three members of the supreme court, when they were up for retention, were rejected by the voters,” Branstad says, “so it is a controversial issue and we’ve gone through it in the state of Iowa and we’ve lived with the decision and people have also lived with the consequences of it.”

Branstad made his comments during his weekly news conference, which you may hear here.

Branstad on a Friday appearance on IPTV’s “Iowa Press” program said passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage isn’t likely, since it would require approval of two-thirds of congress and then ratification by 34 states.

GOP’s Graham, Cruz, Trump campaigned in Iowa this past weekend

Ted Cruz (file photo)

Ted Cruz (file photo)

Three Republican presidential candidates campaigned in Iowa this weekend. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was returning to the campaign trail for the first time after the slayings of nine African Americans in a Charleston church.

“It’s been overwhelming. It’s the best and worst of times,” Graham said during an interview in Marshalltown Saturday. “It’s hard for me how you can go into a church, pray with people for an hour and shoot them. The level of hate is hard to understand.” But

Graham said the reaction of the victims’ families “changed everything.”

“The love and forgiveness they’ve shown was a wake-up call for the whole country. I’ve never seen my state so close together,” Graham said. “…I’ve never seen so much outpouring of just sheer love — joint services of churches I thought would never even talk to each other, much less pray together. It’s been tough. It’s been the hardest week I can ever remember, but people have been so kind all over the country.”

Graham stood with South Carolina’s governor last Monday to signal support for removing the Confederate battle flag that flies from a war memorial on the state capital grounds in South Carolina.

“After this, it’s time to take the flag down,” Graham said, “and if we don’t, we’ll never move forward as a state.”

Graham was in South Carolina Friday, attending a memorial service for one of the shooting victims, when the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Graham argues it would be a mistake for the GOP to press for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage, because would be too difficult to get such a measure passed by two-thirds of the members of congress and 34 of the 50 states.

“I think the debate would divide the country. It would not achieve a higher purpose,” Graham said. “…We have to accept thec court’s decision in terms of being the law. The constitutional amendment process is not viable. Protecting religious liberties is where I can to go.”

Graham said “religious people” should not be punished for following the tenants of their faith and he “would not tolerate” having churches, synagogue or mosques punished for not performing same-sex marriages.

“Conversely, gay individuals and gay couples, if I’m president, you’ll be treated friendly,” Graham said. “You’ll have the rights of all us, consistent with religious liberties.”

Graham made his remarks after chatting with a late Saturday afternoon crowd at the Maid-Rite in Marshalltown. He also visited the Linn County Fair and stopped at the Field of Dreams.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz delivered a speech in Des Moines on Saturday, blasting the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision. Cruz said it’s wrong to force “Bible-believing Christians to violate their faith.” On Friday, Cruz called for forcing U.S. Supreme Court justices to stand for retention elections.

On Saturday, businessman Donald Trump was in Winterset, visiting the John Wayne Museum and serving as the headliner for a Madison County GOP fundraiser. Trump called the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage “a very, very sad thing.”

(Reporting by Cory Brada, KFJB, Marshalltown; additional reporting and editing by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)

O’Malley: U.S. rejecting ‘politics of exclusion’, choosing ‘progressive’ path

Martin O'Malley.

Martin O’Malley.

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley told an audience in Ames tonight that he is a “fearless” progressive — and the country’s embracing those values.

“If you ever doubt whether or not our country’s headed to a more compassionate, a more generous, a more loving place, this was a good week to see that in the United States of America, wasn’t it?” O’Malley asked and the crowd of about 120 Story County Democrats applauded.

O’Malley was Maryland’s governor in early 2012 when he signed a law that would legalize same-sex marriage and that November Maryland voters became the first state in the country to ratify marriage rights for same-sex couples. O’Malley was in Washington, D.C. last Friday when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on same-sex marriage.

“Who would have thought in just one week the Supreme Court of the United States became more progressive than every single candidate running for the Republican nomination for president,” O’Malley said, to more applause.

O’Malley said the majority of Americans are rejecting the “politics of exclusion” on a variety of issues.

Martin O'Malley speaks in Ames.

Martin O’Malley speaks in Ames.

“If you talk to young people under 40 as I have across the country, you will rarely talk to young Americans who want to blame immigrants for our problems or who deny that climate change is real or who want to discriminate against gay couples,” O’Malley said. “That’s the future of our country.”

A “super PAC” organized to benefit O’Malley is running an ad criticizing rival Bernie Sanders for Sanders’ vote against background checks for gun purchases and legal protections for gun manufacturers. O’Malley told reporters tonight that he has “always been clear” on where he stands on “gun control and O’Malley contends the “emerging position” in the country on guns is similar to laws he enacted as Maryland’s governor

“I have been able to bring people together to pass comprehensive gun safety legislation, while also respecting the rights of hunters and hunting traditions which are really, really important in my state nad throughout the country, but we passed an assault weapons ban,” O’Malley said. “We passed background checks with fingerprints and we also were able to limit those magazines that can do so much damage.”

Sanders has said he favors “common-sense” legislation that bridges the “cultural divide” between rural Americans who favor gun rights and urban Americans who favor new restrictions on guns. Both Sanders and O’Malley will be back in Iowa later this week

Cruz blasts Supreme Court, explains his vote against ‘fast track’

Republican Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz is on a campaign swing through the state this weekend. Cruz, who is a first-term Texas Senator, told an audience of 200 in Pierson Friday night that the U.S. Supreme Court is exhibiting a “pattern of lawlessness” this week, starting with its ruling Thursday on “ObamaCare.”

“Six justices of the United States Supreme Court committed a naked and shameless act of judicial activism,” Cruz said. “What they did was fundamentally lawless….They rewrote the law and, in doing so, violated their judicial oath and effectively joined the Obama Administration enforcing this failed law.”

And after the court’s ruling on Friday morning making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, Cruz began calling for a constitutional amendment

“We are not governed by a judicial priesthood,” Cruz said. “We are not governed by judicial tyranny and when five lawyers believe they know better than 320 million Americans and seize sovereignty, it is incumbent upon us to take that power back.”

Cruz proposes retention elections for justices on the United States Supreme Court.

“So that when they violate the constitution and the law, the American people can remove them from their post,” Cruz said, to applause.

Iowa is among the 20 states which have retention elections for the judges in state courts. Three members of the Iowa Supreme Court were voted off the bench in 2010 after the joined the court’s unanimous 2009 decision which legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa. A fourth justice who joined in that ruling won his retention vote in 2012. The justice who wrote the Varnum decision is currently the court’s chief justice.

This past week in the U.S. Senate, Cruz switched his position on trade promotion authority for the president, which he had supported, and instead voted against giving President Obama that “fast track” authority to negotiate trade agreements.

“I’m a strong supporter of free trade,” Cruz said. “Like Ronald Reagan, I believe when we open up foreign markets it benefits American farmers, American ranchers, American manufacturers. It produces jobs and economic growth and so, initially, the first time the Senate took up what’s called trade promotion authority, I supported it. However, in the months since then there have been two significant changes.”

Cruz points to the Wikileaks release of some of the text of a proposed trade agreement which Cruz said would “explicitly” change U.S. immigration laws.

“No over and over again the administration had been saying it wasn’t changing immigration laws,” Cruz said. “I had introduced in the Senate a strong amendment to prevent any trade deal from affecting immigration law and, if it attempted to, have it not be subject to fast track. That amendment was blocked in the senate and was not added to TPA.”

And Cruz accuses Republican leaders in congress of making a deal with some Democrats to pass trade promotion authority along with reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank to get Democratic votes. Cruz says the Export-Import Bank is “corporate welfare” because it guarantees loans to U.S. corporations that do business in developing countries.

Both of Iowa’s Republican Senators voted in favor of giving President Obama trade promotion authority.

Last night’s event was hosted by Bill Anderson, a state senator from Pierson and, as the crowd in Pierson’s city park munched on grilled pork loin sandwiches, Anderson announced he was endorsing Cruz.

(Reporting in Pierson by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars; additional reporting and editing by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)

Congressman King critical of gay marriage ruling, Loebsack praises it

Steve King

Steve King

Iowa Congressman Steve King, a republican from Kyron, says today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage is another example of “extreme judicial overreach,” just like the decision on Obamacare.

“If gay marriage is to be the policy of this land — that needs to be a decision made by the people through their elected representatives — not by judicial fiat,” King says. In a video statement, King says this court decision is like the Dred Scott decision on slavery, and the other Supreme Court decisions that banned prayer in public schools and allowed abortion. “The Supreme Court has a terrible record in trying to transform our society and put an end to issues,” King says. “The only way we put an end to issues if it is the will of the people. It’s not the will of the people to have same-sex marriage. Now there is no reason to have civil marriage whatsoever.”

King says there’s a way to deal with the ruling. “So, I’m calling upon the states, just abolish civil marriage, let’s go back to holy matrimony the way it began. Do that alone,” King says. “And by the way, I want to send a message to the Supreme Court — a good strong message — and in the next days and weeks I will be introducing legislation to do just that.”

Congressman Dave Loebsack.

Congressman Dave Loebsack.

On the other side of the issue, Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Iowa City, released this statement on the gay marriage ruling:

“Iowans are no strangers to being on the forefront of fighting for greater civil rights. We have long strived for equality, whether it is based on race, gender or sexual orientation. That is why I am thrilled that the Supreme Court today struck down state laws that discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, effectively legalizing marriage between two people of the same sex nationwide. This is a momentous day in civil rights history, and I am so happy that same-sex couples are one important step closer to the equality they deserve.”


Opposition to same-sex marriage: political advantage or ‘political suicide’?

Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling which has legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states is drawing both cheers and jeers. Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, campaigning in Iowa today, said the ruling tramples on states’ rights.

“I’m a proponent of traditional marriage between a man and a woman,” Jindal told Radio Iowa this morning. “I don’t think the court should be overturning what states have decided on this. In Louisiana, it’s in our state constitution.”

Jindal said this ruling will “pave the way for an all-out assault on religious liberty.”

“What is happening today is you see that Christian business owners, florists, caterers and musicians — they’re being forced to participate in wedding ceremonies that violate their beliefs, their conscience,” Jindal said. “I think that’s wrong.”

Republican candidate Rick Santorum, campaigning in western Iowa this morning, called the ruling a “bad decision” that will “harm the country.” Santorum favors an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage.

During a campaign stop in Pella Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said he doesn’t accept the “idea” of same-sex marriage.

“I don’t believe it is a Biblical norm. I have friends who are homosexual. I love them. They’re my friends. I don’t quit loving them because of what they do or who they are,” Huckabee said. “I don’t accept the idea of a same-sex marriage not because I don’t like people, but because I believe the institution of marriage is something very sacred, unique, that is not just a human institution. It’s a divine institution that reflects the very relationship of Christ and his church. For me, that’s something I can’t yield.”

Huckabee, Santorum and Jindal are among the nine GOP candidates who will speak in mid-July at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames. The event’s hosted by Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader and Vander Plaats told Radio Iowa this morning this ruling will bring “common sense” Americans who oppose same-sex marriage “out of the woodwork.”

“We’re going to start seeing what the candidates are saying,” Vander Plaats predicted.

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley are praising the court’s decision on same-sex marriage. State Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines who is the only openly gay member of the legislature, said it’s not a big issue for Democrats and he predicts it won’t be for Republicans either.

“I think this is an issue that’s going to get a lot of oxygen for the next several months, then it is absolutely going to become one of the least important issues of the campaign,” McCoy told Radio Iowa.

However, McCoy said Democrats do need to realize this decision may not have gone the way it did if a Republican president had been in office since 2009.

“I think we need to remind Democratic voters just why we have the decision we have today,” McCoy said. “And that’s primary due to the good appointments that we’ve had on the court.”

Jennifer Harvey of West Des Moines and her partner legally married in 2009, shortly after Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Harvey suggests opposition to same-sex marriage is a perilous position for a politician.

“I think for politicians who decide to take a stand on that, it might not be right now, but in the very near future that’ll be a form of political suicide,” Harvey said. “If you watch how political sentiment has changed, people very quickly come ot realize that It just sort of makes sense. I think this is settled. I think this will be a non-starter in the next three, four or five years.”

Harvey was a bit surprised by her emotional reaction to today’s decision.

“Kind of just a big sign of relief, like we can finally stop talking about this,” Harvey said, laughing. “It feels like it’s been small victory, small victory, small victory and I was surprised to find myself feel this ping of real joy and kind of a, ‘Wow! It’s finally done.'”

Harvey and her partner, Chris, are the parents of two children and she says in the past six years that same-sex marriage has been legal in Iowa, there’s been a “climate change” in how her family is treated and perceived by others.