About 250 people gathered inside the statehouse this morning to lobby legislators on the same-sex marriage issue.
“Let the people of Iowa vote on the definition of marriage,” Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader, said to applause, cheers and whistles from the crowd that gathered for a mid-morning rally.
Vander Plaats urged the crowd to meet with senators and urge them to pass a resolution that would let Iowans vote on a constitutional amendment that would declare the only legal marriages in Iowa are between a man and a woman. Vander Plaats suggested “marriage equality” is a perilous path.
“If we want marriage equality…why stop at same-sex? Why not have polygamy? Why not have a dad marry his son or marry his daughter? If we’re going to have marriage equality, let’s open this puppy up and let’s have marriage equality,” Vander Plaats said. “Otherwise, let’s stick to the way God designed it, one man and one woman, period.”
AUDIO of Vander Plaats’ speech.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, made the trip from D.C. to Des Moines to speak at today’s rally.
“I don’t care what the odds are and I know many of you don’t either. What I do know is that we were born for such a time as this,” Brown said. “We were born to stand up and speak truth to power.”
AUDIO of Brown’s speech.
Greg Baker, The Family Leader’s political director, urged rally-goers to meet one-on-one with members of the Iowa Senate.
“Whenever you talk to a senator — Democrat or Republican — pray with them,” Baker said. “Pray with them that they can make the best decisions and honor God.”
AUDIO of The Family Leader’s vice president Chuck Hurley & political director Baker.
About an hour later, a group that supports same-sex marriage held a news conference outdoors, on the steps of the statehouse. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines who is the only openly gay member of the legislature, blasted Vander Plaats and dismissed the rally as a “stunt” designed to attract media attention.
“The truth needs to be told,” McCoy said. “Bob Vander Plaats needs to get a real job instead of working on spreading a message of hate and discrimination.”
AUDIO of news conference
Reverend Matt Mardis-LeCroy of Plymouth Congregational Church in Des Moines who has married same-sex couples spoke at the news conference, too. He said The Family Leader does not speak for all people of faith.
“I stand here today as a Christian minister who supports marriage equality in the state of Iowa and let me be perfectly clear. I don’t support marriage equality in spite of my Christian faith,” Mardis-LeCroy said. “I support marriage equality because of my Christian faith.”
Melanie Muth and Tammy Steinwandt of Solon married shortly after the Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling which legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.
“It was a blessing,” Steinwandt said. “It was what we had been hoping for, what we had really been praying for and what we wanted so that we could take our relationship to that next level.”
Calla Rongerude, interim executive director of One Iowa, called The Family Leader rally a “sideshow.”
“Today we want to make sure that Iowa families don’t get lost in the noise,” Rongerud said.
Same-sex marriage is legal in five other states — Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia. Same-sex marriage laws have passed in Maryland and Washington state, but have not yet gone into effect.