Iowa’s NAACP president: civil rights for me, but not for thee
March 17th, 2011
Rev. Keith Ratliff, pastor of the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, is the president of the Iowa-Nebraska chapter of the NAACP. He’s also an anti-gay activist who takes his opposition to gay equality so seriously that in last year’s gubernatorial election he endorsed Republican Bob Vander Plaats, who made opposition to equality his signature position.
Ratlif had a few choice things to say this week to a rally organized by Vander Plaats to stir up anti-gay sentiment. (Iowa Independent)
“For the few victories that the gay community is claiming,” Ratliff said, “they have won it mostly based on the hijacking of them trying to parallel themselves on the backs of the civil rights movement, here in America.”
He said their is “no parallel” of what an “insult” it was for them to compare themselves with the civil rights movement.
Ratliff, of the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, said not being able to marry a person of the same gender was no where near what it’s like to be denied service in a restaurant or hotel for the color of their skin.
How sad that Ratliff has been subjected to the insult of gay people thinking that they were equal to him. But while it may make me seem uppity, perhaps Mr. Ratliff needs a history lesson.
You see it was in 1965 that the state of Iowa banned racial discrimination in service at restaurants and hotels, but it was perfectly legal to deny gay people those exact same services until four years ago.
And there are more than a few readers who could give personal testimony to experiencing exactly the same treatment to which Ratliff thinks there is “no parallel.” Except they had no recourse. It was perfectly legal.
I don’t pretend that racial discrimination is identical to anti-gay discrimination. There are differences and subtleties that are better discussed by those who have experienced both and I’ve heard good argument why either was painful than the other. Nor do I deceive myself into thinking that racism ended in Iowa in 1965. However, I do know that civil rights are those to which each person is entitled from their government without arbitrary denial and that discrimination is ugly and cruel.
And I know that anti-gay bigotry looks just like all other bigotry: the smirk which says that the most despicable and characterless of the “acceptable” race or gender or religion or orientation will always be better than you based on a scale that has nothing to do with merit and everything to do with unearned presumptions of superiority.
Yet while it is foolish and pointless to pit victims of bigotry against each other as though injustice and indignity against one is acceptable because someone else ‘had it worse’, if Ratliff’s wants to compete in the Oppression Olympics on “not being able to marry” and “being denied service in a restaurant or hotel” then he loses and the gay community takes gold. In our lifetime, we’ve known both.
The brilliant Zach Wahls
February 4th, 2011
You’ve probably seen this before, but if not, Zach Wahls gives testimony to the Iowa House on being raised by two mothers.
Iowa house passes anti-marriage constitutional amendment
February 1st, 2011
The Iowa House today, by a vote of 62-37, passed an amendment (House Joint Resolution 6) that would deny any form of legal recognition for gay couples. The amendment seeks to prohibit not only the freedom to marry for gay couples, but also civil unions or domestic partnerships.
The bill now moves on to the Iowa Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to fight attempts to pass the amendment. If passed through both legislative bodies in two consecutive General Assemblies, the issue could be on the ballot as soon as 2013.
As the Democrats hold a majority in the Senate and have already demonstrated their support for Gronstal on the issue, barring some bizarre turn of events, this amendment will not pass the Senate.
Iowa Democratic Senators beat back anti-marriage amendment
January 27th, 2011
As expected, the Democrats in the Iowa Senate held firm against a Republican effort to present a constitutional amendment to reverse the state’s recognition of same-sex marriages. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to keep the issue off the floor, but Sen. Kent Sorenson tried to use a procedural measure to get around that decision. (Iowa Independent)
A motion by state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R-Indianola) to suspend the Senate’s rules to allow a vote on a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was defeated early Thursday morning on a party-line vote.
Sorenson asked all 50 senators to call up Senate Joint Resolution 8, a bill that would amend the Iowa Constitution to specify that marriage between one man and one woman is the only legal union valid or recognized in the state. Senate President Jack Kibbie (D-Emmetsburg) said “no,” but agreed to allow a vote on whether to suspend the rules and override his objection.
Twenty-six Democrats voted “no” and 24 Republicans voted “yes.” The motion was defeated.
So the Republicans having now made their token (but predictably unsuccessful) effort, perhaps the issue can rest until the next election.
Tea Party Not Interested In Social Issues, ctd.
January 16th, 2011
Remember when the tea party tried to sucker LGBT people into their movement by reassuring them that the party was only interested in fiscal issues?
Banning same-sex marriage was the focal point of a conservative tea party rally Saturday afternoon in Council Bluffs. About 35 people gathered at the Mid-America Center to hear speeches from Rep. Kim Pearson, R-Pleasant Hill, and former Republican state representative and current Family Leader lobbyist Danny Carroll.
“I’m a Christian, social, fiscal conservative,” Pearson told the crowd to much applause. “The social and fiscal conservative values work.”
…“The definition of marriage is between one man and one woman,” she said. “God is our ultimate law giver.”
Couple recognition, state by state
December 1st, 2010
Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:
Marriage on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:
District of Columbia
Civil Unions – a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:
Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population
Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population
Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships
In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.
Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.
Marriage update – around the states
November 29th, 2010
The 2010 election has changed the dynamic in a few states and presents both opportunities and challenges for supporters of marriage equality. Here are how I see the current landscape:
Hawaii – Neil Abercrombie, the newly elected governor of Hawaii, is a strong advocate for civil unions. Earlier this year the legislature overwhelmingly approved a civil unions bill and such a bill is likely to be presented again.
Illinois – it is expected that the state legislature will vote this week on a civil unions bill during a lame-duck session. There is adequate support in the Senate, but the House vote is uncertain. Should it pass, Governor Pat Quinn, a strong supporter who was just reelected, will sign the bill. This bill seems to be taking on the impression of a Catholic v. Protestant fight, with NOM and the Catholic Bishop serving as the public face in opposition to civil unions, while a great many Protestants ministers have endorsed the bill.
Minnesota – Mark Dayton holds a lead in the governor’s election over anti-gay Tom Emmer, but the election will not be determined until a recount is completed. Republicans took control of both houses of legislature, so no pro-equality bills are expected; but if Dayton is confirmed there also will be no anti-equality bills either.
The one concern might be that Republicans could try and put a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot that bans both marriage and civil unions. While that may seem like a great idea to anti-gay activists, Emmer ran a homophobic campaign designed to appeal to those who oppose marriage equality and it does not appear to have been successful. I think it likely that an anti-marriage amendment would pass, but anti-civil unions may be too much, and it is becoming increasingly more risky for anti-gays to make such assumptions. Additionally, attitudes can change dramatically in the next two years.
Meanwhile, three couples are suing the state claiming that laws restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples violate the state constitution. Today, a judge rejected the request of the Minnesota Family Counsel to intervene:
“The Council’s alleged injuries would occur solely due to its sincerely-held belief that principles rooted in its interpretations of religious texts are best for the well-being of children and families, and that marriage only between one man and one woman accords with these principles,” wrote Minnesota Fourth District Court Judge Mary S. DuFrense (PDF). “The Court certainly understands that the Council feels strongly about the social issue of same-sex marriage. Strong feelings, however, do not establish a legal interest in a lawsuit.”
Iowa – after three Supreme Court Justices were denied confirmation, anti-gay activists were celebrating. But as the Senate majority leader has committed to blocking any changes to the Iowa constitution, it is unlikely that marriage will be reversed.
New Hampshire – NOM is crowing that anti-marriage activists have taken over both houses. However, my analysis suggests that any reversal of marriage equality is unlikely. While Republicans took a veto-proof majority, a significant number have already voted against any repeal of the law.
Maine – Republican Paul LePage was elected governor, effectively eliminating any forward movement on marriage equality. However LePage supports the current domestic partnership laws so things will remain status quo for a while.
New York – this one is a big question mark. Incoming Governor Cuomo has promised to get marriage legalized. And after the last vote, state legislators have discovered that “things as they are” may well be the most dangerous position to hold; gay activists refused to play the “any Democrat is better than a Republican” game and set their sites on defeating anti-marriage votes.
Going by last year’s vote count, the current best case scenario is that we are three votes shy of what we need (there are still some undecided elections). However, this time our side is taking to the airwaves to drum up public support, and polls show that New Yorkers support marriage equality. What was a party-line vote last year may well be viewed this year in terms of tolerance and New York values and there may be an entirely different dynamic.
Rhode Island – Former-Republican Lincoln Chafee, who ran as an Independent, beat both the Democrat and the Republican candidates to take governor of the tiny state. And one of his first actions was to inform NOM that their opinion on marriage was not of any value to him. Rhode Islanders support marriage equality, and with Chafee’s backing there is a good chance that RI will be the next marriage state.
Maryland – another contender for next marriage state, Maryland did not suffer party reversal. A plurality of voter support marriage equality, and gay State Sen. Richard Madaleno is guardedly optimistic that marriage will be voted in, perhaps as early as January.
His optimism stems from a number of developments on Election Day 2010, some of which ran absolutely counter to national trends. In the Maryland Senate, Democrats actually expanded their majority to a 35-12 advantage over Republicans. And some Democrats who lost their seats did so in primary fights with more progressive challengers, many of whom vowed to be even stronger champions for marriage equality.
And, of course, all of the above could be impacted by Perry v. Schwarzenegger should the courts find that marriage laws which restrict gay people from participation are contrary to the Due Process or Equal Protections clauses of the 14th Amendement.
Not a good night for NOM
November 2nd, 2010
The Republicans picked up significant gains in the midterm election, gaining control of the House of Representatives, and bringing the Senate to within a few votes. This is not good news for the prospect of having issues of inequality addressed in the next two years.
However, this change in the direction of power was not a mandate for social conservatives. Indeed, it was those Republicans who made the most of their socially conservative credentials who fared least well. Christine O’Donnell lost miserably, as did Tom Tancredo, while Tea Party and Republican candidates that minimized or refused to discuss their positions on social issues attracted support.
But no indicator seems to have been more consistent this election than the extent to which a candidate was supported by the National Organization for Marriage. If you were a Senatorial or Gubernatorial candidate whom NOM supported, it seemed to be the kiss of death.
In New Hampshire, NOM has ran an anti-Lynch campaign for two years, and has ratcheted up the anti-Lynch television ads going into the election. Lynch just won his fourth consecutive election, a feat not accomplished for the past 200 years.
In California, NOM sponsored a bus tour for senate candidate Carly Fiorina, encouraging Latino voters to “vota tus valores“. Not only have the networks called this election for Barbara Boxer, Latinos found Fiorina’s valores not to be their valores by two-thirds.
NOM sued the state of New York in hopes of running anonymous ads in favor of Carl Paladino. Paladino’s homophobia sunk his campaign and he ended up pulling but 35% of the vote leaving Cuomo – a marriage support – one of the strongest winners of the night.
In Minnesota, NOM ran radio ads for Tom Emmer claiming that “Mark Dayton and Tom Horner want to impose gay marriage with no vote of the people.” Although Minnesota has not been called, Dayton is 7% ahead of Emmer with 85% of the vote counted.
This kiss of death is consistent with results of NOM’s electioneering in the District of Columbia during their primary. It would seem that using gay couples as a fear tactic seems to have peaked and dissipated.
This is not to say that NOM will not have any causes for celebration. The efforts to reject three supreme court justices in Iowa who were part of the unanimous decision to recognize gay Iowans as protected by the state Constitution, appears to have succeeded. Each appears to have only 46-47% support. Expect NOM to claim this as a clear mandate that the “people of Iowa have spoken” and that they don’t like their gay neighbors so much. NOM was not, however, successful in their effort to oust the Polk County judge who first found for marriage equality.
And NOM’s very own Andy Pugno – the attorney for the Prop 8 campaign – is running for state assembly in California’s 5th Assembly district. At present the vote is too close to call.
All in all, while NOM’s vindictive smearing of the Iowa justices may have proven effective (and may well prove to bring a chilling effect to future legal battles), we can say that they were big losers tonight.
UPDATE: 10:28 pm PST. LA Times:
With more than half the votes counted, Democrat Richard Pan holds a 51% to 45% lead over Republican Andy Pugno in a seat currently held by Republicans.
Not only may Pugno’s repugnant attack on gay couples have cost him the 5th Assembly seat, it may actually move the Democrats in CA closer to a supermajority. NOM must feel so proud.
Iowa justices get Republican support
November 1st, 2010
Failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats is leading a campaign to unseat three of Iowa’s supreme court justices to punish them for finding that gay people have a claim on that state’s constitutional protections. If they justices are not retained, it will be considered a mandate on the issue of marriage equality.
However, by positioning the vote in this manner, they have created some unlikely “pro-gay advocates”: those who value an independent judiciary. Take, for example, Robert Ray, the Republican governor from 1969 to 1983:
It Gets Better: From Perry, IA
October 20th, 2010
If you’ve never seen the web site I’m From Driftwood, you really owe yourself a heart-warming visit. The site is made up of stories submitted by people from all over. Each story’s title says where they come from — “I’m from Sheboygan Falls“, “I’m From Lake Charles“, you get the picture — and they talk about what it was like growing up there, before they were out and as they were coming out. In many ways, it could be seen as a forerunner to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project, which was begun in response to the rash of LGBT suicides we saw in September.
In a few of the I’m From Driftwood posts, you can see considerable overlap between the two projects. This one, “I’m From Perry, IA”, begins with Samuel describing his harrowing experience with a brutal and punitive ex-gay conversion therapy experience. Watch it:
Samuel’s experience is not altogether rare. If his story ended there — conditional love as long as he pretended to be straight — we would see the perfect setup for a life of torment. But there’s another ingredient involved that, for now, is making the story’s ending different from where it could have gone. That ingredient is Sam’s fortitude. Things still aren’t any better with his parents — they still insist that he “change” before they allow him back into the home. But now that he’s in college at Kansas State, things have somehow started to get better for him. But in a very different way and on his terms:
…But, I do recognize that I will give them that chance. What my parents did was part of what they believed. They thought they were losing their child and they wanted to help him, so I have to forgive them, I have to move forward. But I think the reason why I was so excited to be able tell the story was that if there’s other people who have gone through conversion therapy, who are having those feelings of, “I’m the only one alone”, you need to know that there are people who have made it through and, you can’t change what I never chose.
The sad tragedy to all of this is that Sam’s story is both unique and not uncommon. There’s hardly a month that goes by that I don’t get an email from someone asking for advice. Either they are trying to recover from an ex-gay experience or, more commonly, a friend or relative asks what they should do when someone they know enters some kind of “treatment” program. These are hard stories to deal with, but one good resource is Beyond Ex-Gay, a network of ex-gay survivors. It’s not only for survivors themselves, but also their families and friends. I know that they have provided valuable support to those who are coming out of the ex-gay experience.
Justice O’Connor counters call for “representative” judges
September 8th, 2010
Following the unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to protect the equality of gay Iowans, anti-gay activists wailed about “activist” judges and called to replace them with judges who could be reflective of the whim of the majority. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor attended a forum to oppose that idea. (KETV)
Last month, Republican Bob Vander Plaats started a campaign to unseat three Iowa Supreme Court justices up for reelection.
The move started a debate over whether judges should be elected by popular vote.
O’Connor only spoke for about 10 minutes, but she was emphatic in her belief that appointing judges on a merit-based system as we do in Iowa is a much better option than voting for judges in a political election.
This effort by O’Connor may be seen by Iowans as an indictment of the effort to recall the three judges and a rejection of the current trend of calling every unpopular decision “judicial activism”. Justice O’Connor is a centrist who continues to hold the respect of a broad swath of middle-Americans.
O’Connor to weigh in on judicial process in Iowa
September 1st, 2010
For 25 years Sandra Day O’Connor’s opinion mattered more than just about anyone in the country. Appointed in 1981 to be the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court, O’Connor was positioned such that half the court was more conservative and half the court was less so. There were very few decisions in which O’Connor was on the losing side and a great many where her judicial thinking determined the course of the nation’s laws.
Upon retiring, O’Connor was asked what she predicted for the court in the 21st Century. The jurist replied that just as matters of race had dominated the court during the 20th Century, the upcoming years would focus on matters of sexual orientation.*
Now, even though she has stepped down from the SCOTUS, O’Connor will be – at least tangentially – addressing same sex marriage.
After the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously found for marriage equality, anti-gay voices have been calling for their heads. Three are up for re-confirmation this year, and there is a campaign to vote them out.
Some argue that the current method of judicial selection – the governor selects from a list of potential jurists who have been vetted by a State Judicial Nominating Committee – leaves judges “unaccountable to the people”. Some, such as conservative Alabama jurist Tom Parker, have gone so far as to argue that Iowa should adopt Alabama’s practice of having their judges run for office and make decisions based on partisan maneuvering and campaign promises rather than on the protections in the state constitution.
That is why it is so important the people insist they be allowed to select those who sit on the bench over them. If judges want to be “super legislators,” then they must stand before their constituents and tell them what they believe about the Constitution as it relates to current public policy debates.
Next week the Iowa State Bar Association will host a panel to discuss judicial appointment, and O’Connor will come to advocate for experience, temperament, and merit as qualifiers rather than populist appeal.
Sandra Day O’Connor will take part in a panel discussion Sept. 8 advocating judge retention based on merits rather than political whim.
O’Connor’s visit next month will be held at Hotel Fort Des Moines. The specifics of the panel discussion, hosted by the Iowa State Bar Association, have not been finalized, said Steve Boeckman, a spokesman for the association, which is one of the hosts of the forum.
“It’s on the merit selection of judges in the state,” Boeckman said. “That’s one of her issues. She’s a proponent of using a merit selection system rather than an election system for judges.”
I don’t know if O’Connor will speak to the wisdom of the court’s decision or even her opinion on the federal constitutionality of anti-gay state amendments. But I find it likely that she will address the campaign to remove the justices from the bench.
And I have to say that I agree with her that the people are best served by having one governmental branch that is not subject to the whim of the latest political trend or the most affluent contributor.
Let’s not forget that “standing before their constituents” may well result in putting Sharron Angle in the US Senate.
* – I’m recalling this from memory, but I cannot, for the life of me, find the interview in which she said this. I would greatly appreciate anyone who has the source.
Some items of interest from a odd poll
June 7th, 2010
Last week a poll in Iowa conducted by a Des Moines television station reported that a majority of Iowans support marriage equality, a finding that appears difficult to believe. Now an oddly conducted poll from the Des Moines Register adds to the picture.
On the face of it, the polling data might seem negative. And, were this of the population as a whole, this might be quite troubling. But it’s not a poll of Iowans, it’s a polling of Republican Iowans who intend to vote in Tuesday’s primary. I have no idea why the Register didn’t get the opinions of Democrats or independents, but we’re stuck with what they gave us.
Here’s what they found:
More than three-quarters of Iowans planning to vote in Tuesday’s Republican primary say Iowans should have a chance to vote on changing the constitution specifically to ban gay marriage.
But the same consensus does not exist for ousting Iowa Supreme Court judges who voted last year to invalidate Iowa’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage.
And one-third of the poll respondents say that some Iowans have overreacted on the issue, and that gay marriage in the state is just not that big a deal.
Voter analysts will tell you that primary voters tend towards the more committed end of a party, those who feel most connected to the reasons for their registration selection. They also tend to be older, especially in a non-presidential election. So it is fair to say that “Republican primary voters” is among the more conservative polling demographics that could be selected.
And now that Iowans have lived with marriage equality for a year, 35% of Republican primary voters think that “having gay marriage in Iowa is just not that big a deal.” And that’s kind of a big deal.
Poll: majority of Iowans support same-sex marriage rights
June 4th, 2010
Des Moines television station KCCI has conducted a poll of Iowans asking the following question:
Now that more than a year has gone by since the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, do you favor or oppose marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Favor – 53%
Oppose – 41%
Not Sure – 6%
I don’t know the sampling, the methodology, or margin or error. And the wording likely led to skewing the results towards the positive.
But, nevertheless, this is very very good news. And as one of the few recent polls on the issue, it deflects much of the credibility of anti-gay activists who claim that “the people” oppose equality.
The hundreds of churches in Iowa that you should avoid
June 1st, 2010
The Iowa Family Policy Center and Purpose Ministries have collaborated on a list of about 500 clergy and ministry leaders who are petitioning the legislature to forcibly divorce same-sex married couples in Iowa. (Sioux City Journal)
Keith Ratliff, pastor of Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, said the issue is not about hate or homophobia or lack of compassion.
“Just because you disagree with someone, it doesn’t mean you hate them. It can just mean we disagree with their viewpoint, and in this case, their lifestyle,” Ratliff said.
Well, no, Pastor Ratliff.
If I petitioned that you (or people like you) should be treated as inferior to me, I think you would find it difficult to locate the compassion in my efforts. And if I were to do so in the context of fighting the “People like Ratliff Lobby”, you might even identify animus in my motivations. And if I disagreed with other “viewpoints” and “lifestyles” without seeking to make them legally disadvantaged, you would probably discount my protestations and see me as a bigot and hater.
I’m just saying.
Does that mean that everyone on the list hates gay folk? No, of course not.
But it does mean that every single signatory thinks that gay people are inferior and not worthy of equal treatment under the law. And it means that they have aligned themselves with some who do hate us and that they have pledged themselves to be enemies of equality.
And they have conveniently provided us with a listing of who they are.
So if you live in Iowa and worship at any of the churches listed on this petition, you may wish to question your attendance. And if you should feel that you cannot in good conscience go back, please do let the pastor know why.
Iowa’s Rep. King wants to damage state’s economy
May 20th, 2010
Take, for example, the press release he’s just issued:
“Just over one year ago, when the Iowa Supreme Court decided to ignore Iowa law and grant same sex couples the ability to get married in our state, I predicted that the decision, absent action by the state legislature to enact a marriage license residency requirement, would turn Iowa into the gay marriage Mecca.” King said. “Now, the Iowa Department of Public Health is reporting that of the more than 2,000 same-sex couples who were married in Iowa between April 27, 2009, and March 31, 2010, sixty percent were from out of state,” said King.
So there were over 1,200 people who came with family and friends into the state to spend money in this very depressed economy. They paid Iowa fees for marriage certificates, stayed in Iowa hotels, ate in Iowa restaurants, shopped in Iowa stores, tipped Iowa ministers, and came home to tell all their friends about what a great time they had in Iowa.
That should be cause for celebration. But not to King; no, he wants to stop all that Iowa commerce:
“This new report from the Department of Public Health reemphasizes the short-sightedness of the court’s decision to enact a same-sex marriage law from the bench, and it provides even more evidence of the need for a residency requirement and a constitutional amendment to repeal it.”
What an idiot.
The best thing a state can become is the Mecca for, well, just about anything that increases revenues without increasing crime, blight, or other social ills.
Nearly half of all Americans live where there is some recognition of same-sex couples
March 3rd, 2010
About 5.1% of Americans (15.5 million) live in areas in which same-sex marriages are legal and equal to opposite-sex marriages: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.
Another 58.4 million (19.2%) live in states which have either civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer all the rights and protections of marriage without the name: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. To that we can add two more states (New York and Maryland) in which the local state government will honor marriage occurring elsewhere and we have a total of 32.6% of Americans living with the rights and responsibilities of marriage available to their family.
There are also five states which recognize same-sex couples and offer them limited itemized rights. They are Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island and they add an additional 14.2 million Americans (4.7%).
But recognition does not stop there. There are dozens more counties and cities who provide what local recognition and benefits as they can, adding another 14.2 million local residents (4.7% of Americans) who can appreciate that their city officials see them as a couple. Local municipalities include the populations of Salt Lake City, UT; Phoeniz AZ; Tuscon AZ; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Lawrence, KS; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Lewis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Cook County, IL (Chicago); Urbana, IL; Cleveland, OH; Cleveland Heights, OH; Toledo, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Harrisburg, PA; El Paso, TX; Travis County, TX (Austin); Eureka Springs, AK; New Orleans, LA; Carrboro, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Clarke County, GA (Athens); Fulton County, GA (Atlanta); Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale); Key West, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL.
In total about 140 million Americans – about 46% of the nation’s population – live where there is some form of official notice of same-sex couples. So NOM can proclaim “victory” when they have an election in California or Maine, but this ball is rolling and the momentum is in the direction of recognition.
Four Democrats join Iowa’s House Republicans in pointless anti-gay gesture
February 15th, 2010
Last week the Republicans in the Iowa Senate went through the motions of pretending that they were going to pull an anti-gay marriage bill out of committee. Two Democrats joined them in their public demonstration of anti-gay activism.
Now the Republicans in the House have taken their stand. Four Democrats joined them: Dennis Black of Grinnell, Keith Kreiman of Bloomfield, Rich Olive of Story City and Joe Seng of Davenport all signed the petition.
Iowa’s anti-gay marriage bill is dead for another year
February 9th, 2010
In a publicity stunt (send money) Republicans in the Iowa legislature tried to pull from committee legislation that would begin the process of changing the state constitution to ban gay marriage. As expected, the Democrat controlled House and Senate both said, “no thanks, dead in that committee is fine with me.”
However, we should be appreciative of the Republicans. After all, this effort revealed two Democrats who hate equality so much that they were willing to defy party loyalty and vote to pull the bills from committee. They are Senator Tom Hancock and Representative Dolores Mertz.
Gay Iowans, and indeed all Iowans who believe that each citizen is entitled to equal treatment under the law, are invited to find and support primary opponents for these two legislators.
Iowans couldn’t care less about gay marriage
February 8th, 2010
When the Iowa Supreme Court determined that denying state services based on sexual orientation was unconstitutional and that the State of Iowa must provide marriage equality, you could almost slice the glee of the Iowa Republican Party. Finally, there was an issue which they could use to perhaps increase their influence and maybe even win a few elections. So they because the “no gay marriage” party.
Last year they made several attempts at getting an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment up for a legislative vote and were unsuccessful. They chortled that Democrats would be sorry come election time.
But as it has turned out, running opposed to gay marriage has not proven to be a winning strategy. To their surprise, Iowans couldn’t care less about stopping gay folk from marrying. Literally.
The Des Moines Register conducted a poll of Iowans asking, “The state Legislature can address large and small issues during the course of the session. For the following issues, please tell me if you think the issue does or does not deserve the Legislature’s limited time.” Banning gay marriage did not make the cut; only 36% thought it was worth the time discussing.
Not only was it not deemed worthy of legislative time, of the six issues that Iowans were questioned about, addressing gay marriage concerned them the least. Iowans were more concerned about payday loans and puppy mills than they were about whether same-sex couples married.
This lack of interest appears to be reflected in a change in strategy in the campaigns of Republicans running for the party’s nomination for governor. Just a brief while ago they were all running to see who could be more extreme and reactionary.
Bob Vander Plaats pledged to halt such weddings with an executive order (an authority the governor does not wield) while Chris Rants declared that he’d veto every bill that reached his desk until the legislature voted on a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality. Most of them supported calling for a constitutional convention so they wouldn’t have to wait for two sessions and a popular vote.
Only former governor Terry Branstad, also an opponent of gay marriage, chose not to run as a raving loon. Branstad took a more nuanced approach and expressed recognition of the difficulties that gay couples face when denied certain rights.
But that has changed. The race now appears to be between Branstad and Vander Plaats, and the latter has now discovered a different campaign strategy. (Register)
I’ve talked to Vander Plaats from time to time, but hadn’t really seen him out on the stump since last fall. His speeches used to give prime attention to conservative issues and gay marriage. This time, he focused entirely on job creation, state spending and education. Nobody even asked about the social issues.
I mentioned to him afterward that was a significant change from last summer, when he told me in an interview that he thought the election would hinge on two issues: gay marriage and the state smoking ban.
“Did I say that?” he asked. Yes, I told him.
“Campaigns always evolve, no doubt about it,” he said. (He didn’t mention the smoking ban at all today.)
Yes, there is no doubt that campaigns evolve, especially when the voters care less about your pet issue than they do about monitoring dog breeders.