A gay rights group says Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle’s recent statements on gay marriage are “mean-spirited” and “hypocritical.” Nussle said last week that amending Iowa’s constitution to ban gay marriage is a quality of life issue.
“Marriage is certainly a foundational issue. How we treat that is certainly important. How we define it. Whether we would define it or protect it is certainly something that I think Iowans tell me, at least, that they hold pretty dear and they think is pretty important for the signal we send our kids and the signal we send people who might be interested in coming to Iowa, so I think it’s part of a quality of life — I don’t think it’s the only thing,” Nussle says. “How we treat public safety and corrections is very important part of that. I think how we treat our environment, how we treat education — all of that is part of quality of life or what kind of Iowa we use as a trademark.”
Mark Daley, executive director of “One Iowa,” says Nussle’s advancing a “discriminatory agenda” that’s denies gays and lesbians in Iowa the same rights that heterosexuals enjoy, for example, in making end-of-life health care decisions for a spouse. “I think it is a quality of life issue and what Jim Nussle is trying to do is deny certain families that ability to care for their loved ones,” Daley says.
Nussle backs amendments to both the state and the U.S. Constitution which would declare that the only valid marriages are those between a man and a woman. Nussle says Iowa’s quality of life is the state’s most marketable asset since we don’t have ocean beaches or mountains. “What we have to sell — and what people are looking for all over the nation right now — is a safe, clean, healthy place to raise their families, to send them to school, to start a business, to have a good job, to be able to have quality of life time not only for themselves but for their family,” Nussle says. “That’s what Iowa sells and I think we ought to sell it as our trademark.”
Daley accuses Nussle of being hypocritical. “For someone who has enjoyed the blessings of marriage more than once, to try to deny it to other couples is sort of disingenuous,” Daley says.
Nussle divorced in 1996. In 2001, Nussle married his second wife, Karen, a former aide to Congressman Newt Gingrich who is now a communications professor at the University of Dubuque.