One of Iowa’s leading same-sex marriage opponents says today’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings will put the issue front and center in the 2014 campaign, but same-sex marriage advocates say it’s a “non-issue” for the majority of voters.
Former Republican state senator Jeff Angelo founded Iowa Republicans for Freedom, a group that argues government should not deny civil marriage to any couple, regardless of the gender of the spouses.
“Every time there’s a poll taken, the numbers are moving in my direction not in the other direction,” Angelo told Radio Iowa this afternoon. “No one is being convinced that it is o.k. to discriminate against Iowans who are gay when it comes to their request to be married in the eyes of the government.”
Bob Vander Plaats — the president of The Family Leader — said earlier today that the same-sex marriage issue is a motivating factor for Iowa conservatives and there will be a strong push to elect legislators who oppose same-sex marriage. Angelo admits there is a segment of the GOP that’s very motivated by this issue, but Angelo argues that is a shrinking segment of the party.
“As far as Iowans in general and Republicans increasingly, particularly young Republicans, this issue is becoming a non-issue,” Angelo said.
Iowa Republicans for Freedom and a couple of high-profile Iowa Republicans have begun to meet publicly to argue the party should moderate its message and welcome those who support same-sex marriage to be part of the GOP coalition.
“Yes, there’ll be fights in the primaries, but more and more you’re going to see great Republican candidates decide to run for office and they are going to be in favor of the freedom to marry,” Angelo said, “and they are going to win those primaries.”
Donna Red Wing is the leader of “One Iowa” — a group that argues gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual Iowans should have “full equality” under the law.
“I think that, you know, we are on the right side of history and today’s ruling certainly points that trajectory, you know, in the direction we certainly want it to go,” Red Wing said during an interview this afternoon with Radio Iowa.
In 2010 Iowans voted three Iowa Supreme Court justices off the bench in reaction to the 2009 court ruling that paved the way for same-sex marriage in Iowa. Red Wing points to the unsuccessful 2012 effort to toss another justice off the court.
“Folks understood that, on some level, this was a referenda on marriage and did not see any reason to remove Justice (David) Wiggins,” Red Wing said.
Vander Plaats said the U.S. Supreme Court has let states retain the right to define what marriage is and the people of Iowa have yet to decide. 2016 is the earliest a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage could be scheduled by the state legislature. Vander Plaats said The Family Leader and other conservative groups will focus on getting Republicans elected to the state senate, as the Democratic leader of the senate has refused to allow the issue to be voted upon. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal has repeatedly said he does not intend to allow discrimination to be written into Iowa’s constitution.