Marriage’s final frontier
June 1st, 2011
In what has been, to me, a surprisingly short period of time, the fertile, tamed gay-supportive territory has come to support marriage equality. Democrats overwhelmingly are supportive, and independents have joined them to the extent that now a majority of Americans favor legalized same-sex marriages.
But Republicans – especially conservative evangelical Republicans – have held to their opposition with little exception. The red state, red meat, tea partying folk have not been receptive in any manner to talk about Teh Gheys being real people with real rights, especially the right to marry the person of their choosing.
Until recently. Very very recently.
Perhaps it took the high-profile support over unquestionably-conservative Ted Olson to make it possible for conservative Republican support to be considered. Perhaps the hopeless – but fascinating and visible – presidential campaign of Fred Karger introduced the possibility. Maybe it was Meghan McCain, Barbara Bush, or other young Republicans willing to talk back to their elders. But whatever allowed it, change has begun.
Marriage equality has finally set foot in this wild frontier, planted a flag, and claimed its place. In, of all places, Iowa’s activist Republican community. Today, Jeff Angelo, a former State Senator from Ames has launched a new group: Iowa Republicans for Freedom.
Angelo is a heterosexual father of three who identifies as an evangelical Christian. He regularly attends the Ames Evangelical Free Church. While he still considers himself “very much an activist Republican,” Angelo said he, and other Republicans, are recognizing banning same-sex marriage violates the widely-held conservative belief of personal freedoms.
But don’t assume that Angelo is just some “squishy moderate” who has let his liberal side take over. Angelo’s anti-gay credentials couldn’t be stronger. (DMRegister)
Angelo, who formerly lived in Creston, had opposed gay marriage while serving in the Iowa Senate and was co-sponsor of the Iowa Defense of Marriage Act in the late 1990s. In 2006, he was the lead sponsor of a proposed state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. He said he gradually came to a realization after leaving the legislature that his stance on same-sex marriage was wrong and hurtful.
Like many, he had believed the lies he told himself. Especially the old “my gay friends” fiction. (Iowa Independent)
“I previously bought into the notion that I could tell my gay friends how much I loved them, that I just disapproved of their lifestyle and they would be OK with that,” Angelo admitted. “But they told me that I made them feel lesser in my eyes or that I made them feel like a second-class citizen. I labored under delusion for some time that [what my friends said] wasn’t true, that they really believed I loved them and that I was their friend.”
And he found that once he questioned his presumptions, it turned out that this new respect for his fellow man fit better with his ideals than had his prejudices. So he’s now sharing that message.
“Far too often, the conversation on marriage can get lost in rhetoric,” Angelo said. “But this debate really centers around one idea: whether government has the right to say whom a person should love and marry. As a proud conservative, I believe in smaller, limited government, and that government should have no more of a right to say whom I can marry than they should be able to tell my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters whom they can marry.”
“It is time for conservatives to get back to their roots,” Angelo said. “Through Iowa Republicans for Freedom, we will begin a conversation about whether our party and our state will stand for true conservative values, or whether we will allow ourselves to get lost in senseless debates that do nothing but demean our neighbors and threaten the rights of our fellow Iowans.”
Jeff Angelo is a very welcome advocate. His voice can reach those who simply cannot hear what our community is trying to say. I truly wish him well.