Editors' Note: Calla Rongerude is the One Iowa Interim Executive Director. Previously, she served as the One Iowa Public Affairs Director, Public Education Consultant for Freedom to Marry, and as the Communications Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She moved to Iowa in 2010 from California with her family and joined the One Iowa team fighting to protect marriage equality in the Heartland.
One Iowa was founded seven years ago and in those seven years, we have seen Iowa transform from a state with no protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to one of only six states that recognizes the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. At One Iowa, we plan on keeping it that way. Yesterday, In the Life media aired a new episode titled "Remaining Vigilant" that focuses on the Iowa fight to ensure that marriage equality remains the law of the land.
It is crucial that the national movement for equality understand what is at stake here in the Midwest and we commend In the Life media for recognizing the importance of our marriage fight in Iowa. Iowa plays a unique role in the national political landscape. As the site of the "first in the nation" caucuses, Iowans are in the spotlight every four years tasked with picking the next presidential candidate. We also led the way in 2009 with our marriage decision, Varnum v. Brien making Iowa, at the time, only the third state with marriage equality in the nation. Iowa's national importance cannot be understated.
What this episode does is shows just how much politics has influenced the conversation about marriage equality since the 2009 marriage decision. From the judicial retention election in 2010 to the marriage ban amendment HJR6 to the Republican caucuses in January, Iowans haven't had a chance to talk about what this issue is really about: people. This isn't about petitions or politicians--this issue is about the love and commitment of gay and lesbian couples who are our neighbors and friends and coworkers and fellow churchgoers.
That is why One Iowa launched a public education campaign Why Marriage Matters Iowa to highlight loving committed couples and their families. We know that when we share our lives, when we share our stories of why we got married and what it felt like on April 3, 2009, we change hearts and minds and keep marriage equality safe.
After the marriage decision, we celebrated victory as many folks across the country asked the question: "Iowa? Seriously?" We are proud of our long history of protecting equal rights for all Iowans and the Varnum decision was exactly in the tradition of Iowa fairness. For many folks though, the thought of Iowa being a leader in the national equality movement was a surprise. That is why raising awareness about our fight to preserve equality is so important. We need the support of national allies because our opposition is doing--and will continue to do--whatever they can to rollback marriage equality.
The National Organization for Marriage, our biggest opponent, has plans to spend at least $1 million to impose their radical political agenda and their morality on Iowa. Our opposition sees Iowa as a target and it has proven that it will try to influence elections, flood our state with special interest money, and try to bully our legislators into passing a marriage ban that harms families.
We see Iowa differently. We see Iowa as a beacon of hope in the Midwest. We are the future of the equality movement in the country. Iowa stands as an example of what we can achieve across the country with fair-minded Americans. But it will take work.
It will take reaching Iowans in every corner of the state. It will take parents talking about how marriage equality has given them the tools and security they need to protect their families. It will take allies talking about how equality, fairness, and the Golden Rule are the values they want to teach their children. Yes, it will also take the political leadership of pro-equality representatives. And it will take our allies across the country to realize that our fight is far from over and to stand with us.
One Iowa is committed to fighting until the day when our families are safe from political attack. We will not stop because we know that Iowa is better because of marriage equality. Will you stand with us?