Bo Shuff

Defend Iowa

Filed By Bo Shuff | April 03, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: constitutional amendment, Iowa, Legislature, LGBT, marriage, Senate, state house

Now that we have won in the Iowa Supreme Court, we need to defend the decision and prevent the Constitution from being amended.

The Democratic leadership in both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate have pledged to block any Amendment and their full statement is behind the cut.

For Immediate Release: April 3, 2008

Iowa continues to be a leader in guaranteeing civil rights

This is a joint statement from Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and
Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy on today's Supreme Court decision:

"Thanks to today's decision, Iowa continues to be a leader in guaranteeing all of our citizens' equal rights.

"The court has ruled today that when two Iowans promise to share their lives together, state law will respect that commitment, regardless of whether the couple is gay or straight.

"When all is said and done, we believe the only lasting question about today's events will be why it took us so long. It is a tough question to answer because treating everyone fairly is really a matter of Iowa common sense and Iowa common decency.

"Today, the Iowa Supreme Court has reaffirmed those Iowa values by ruling that gay and lesbian Iowans have all the same rights and responsibilities of citizenship as any other Iowan.

"Iowa has always been a leader in the area of civil rights.

"In 1839, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected slavery in a decision that found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the Civil War decided the issue.

"In 1868, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated "separate but equal" schools had no place in Iowa, 85 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.

"In 1873, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against racial discrimination in public accommodations, 91 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.

"In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law.

"In the case of recognizing loving relationships between two adults, the Iowa Supreme Court is once again taking a leadership position on civil rights.

"Today, we congratulate the thousands of Iowans who now can express their love for each other and have it recognized by our laws."

I know there will be readers who think party doesn't matter. That's crap.

If the Republicans are able to re-take either chamber, or heaven forbid, both chambers we will have to deal with an Amendment in Iowa. There is a massive difference in party in Iowa, and we need to do everything we can to maintain this victory.

Iowa House Democratic Caucus Fund- Iowa House Truman Fund

Iowa Senate Democratic Caucus Fund- Iowa Senate Majority Fund

We do not have the luxury in this case of debating how perfect the Iowa Democratic Party has been in the past. This is not the time to debate the merits of a two-party system.

This decision is strong, it's clear and it refutes every single argument that the wingnuts have ever put forward. We must defend it.

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Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | April 3, 2009 2:21 PM

Bo, you are exactly right. We need to go all out to support the legislator who support on this issue because they will be targeted by anti-gay groups.

May i recommend we all spend our tourist dollars in Iowa? I think that would be a good message to send.

I love it, ewe. I'm spending my next New Years in Des Moines!

It's naive to think party doesn't matter. It's just as naive to think it's all that matters. As we're learning here in New York, sometimes you put all your effort into getting one party out of the leadership and another one into it and the new party screws you just as hard as the old one did.

Put another way: Thanks NY Dems! I really enjoyed taking a week off work to put in 12 hour days in Queens so you could get control of the NY Senate, just to see you turn around and sell LGBT New Yorkers down the river. That was awesome!

I agree with Michael. We need to support the legislators who support marriage. And defeat the ones who don't. Regardless of party. Primaries are a great way to do that. And I have this feeling that slightly more nuanced strategy will manage to keep the "right" leadership in office.

And seriously, there are too many anti-LGBT Dems to even consider giving money to party orgs. Give it to individual Democrats who you know are good on our issues. Or you'll end up supporting some ConservaDem who votes against us.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | April 3, 2009 10:17 PM

The reason this is different in Iowa is because it is the leadership of the Dems in both houses -- with particularly strong emphasis on Mike Gronstal in the Senate -- who are acting as the bulwark through which the opposition (in both parties) is not being permitted to pass. It is necessary to keep these leaders in place, thus it is necessary to maintain Dem majorities.

People who know me know I've supported supportive Republicans and members of other parties and that this is not the opinion of some knee-jerk, Dems uber alles party loyalist. It's just a practical assessment based on the on-the-ground reality of this particular situation.

If you have the capacity to give more than a few bucks, let me know and I'll help you make it really count on this issue.

Actually, it's the exact same reason as here in New York. Just reversed. It was the Republican leadership in the New York Senate that refused to take up any LGBT legislation, so every year good bills passed in our Assembly and were never taken up in the Senate (your bulwarks in reverse). The community was told, both by Democratic leaders and LGBT groups (both NY and national ones who sunk a lot of money into this), that if we put the effort into flipping the leadership in the Senate, we'd get marriage, gender identity non-discrimination and a safe schools bill passed here in New York.

After two (or three, depending on who you ask) cycles of gay time, money and effort going into defeating Republican Senators and replacing them with Democrats, we finally got new leadership in the NY Senate. And then what happened? We got sold out. Three ConservaDems said they wouldn't vote for the Dem majority leader unless certains demands were met. One of the ConservaDems was very public that his opposition to gay rights was the reason he wouldn't support the Dem majority.

So what happened? In a backroom deal concessions were made and the ConservaDems backed the Democratic majority leader. No one spoke publicly about the concessions, but it was widely rumored that taking marriage equality, and perhaps other LGBT bills, off the table was promised. I didn't believe it, at first, but as the session continues with none of the significant LGBT progress we were promised, I'm beginning to realize that we were, indeed, sold out by the Democratic Party.

Thing is, I'm not anti-Dem. I'm on our county committee and regularly volunteer for Democratic candidates. I just think Bo's simplistic suggestion that it's party-uber-alles is the kind of thinking that get's us screwed regularly. Pro-choice orgs and activists work with allies on both sides and pay more attention to record than party and they get a lot more done, legislatively, than we do. We could learn from them. Putting money behind pro-LGBT candidates in Republican & Democratic primaries for the many "safe" seats is likely to get us more support more cheaply than giving money to the Dem org spending scads of cash to win the handful of swing seats. Not that those aren't important too, but that alone won't get us there.

Plus his dismissive, condescending "that's crap" is just the kind of thing that pisses me off. ;-)

Brad Bailey | April 4, 2009 8:43 AM

Sam Ritchie:

You are right on the money! Party affiliation per se does not tell me where a candidate stands on the issues. Last election cycle I read a letter to the editor of my local paper by the Democratic state campaign chair. It went something like this: "Kick up your hooves, Democrats! Now that we've removed those awful gays from our party platform, we can really give those Republicans a run for their money!" I quit the Democratic Party after reading this. Now I'm an Independent voter. If a candidate is pro-gay, I vote for him or her, regardless of party affiliation. If not, I don't. I voted for Bob Barre in the last election because he is pro-gay and stressed balancing the national budget as his main priority.

One last thing: a careful, reasoned analysis of the political realities on the ground in Iowa could show that keeping the Dems in the majority is the number one priority. For example, it could be that there are so many anti-LGBT Dems and no pro-LGBT Reps that the only thing keeping an amendment from passing is having leadership that refuses to consider it. If that were the case, I could see the focus on keeping Dems in the lead (though I would think you could still get some friendly Ds & Rs in primaries, via the "walk and chew gum at the same time" theory).

But I didn't read that careful, reasoned analysis here. I just read the same old, knee jerk "Dems are the way and the light" that keeps getting us screwed.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | April 4, 2009 11:22 PM

Sam, I'd posted that careful, reasoned analysis in replies elsewhere on Bilerico in the last day. Sorry you missed it but you have outlined the situation in Iowa almost perfectly, with the exception that there are a few friendly Rs and that the deeply unfriendly Ds are but a very few (and targeted for defeat, BTW, by a growing coalition of groups they've pissed off, piggishness being unable to contain itself to one subject, as usual).

The problem with the bulk of the Ds is not that they are unfriendly at their core but that they are in the early-middle part of the learning curve on the subject of civil marriage equality where they've assimilated that being mean to the queers is unacceptable but they are still struggling with the concept that civil marriage is the civil union gold standard and that anything less is just that -- less and thus being mean to the queers.

It was a practical necessity to educate the leadership on this first and the leadership has conquered this concept and saying so in no uncertain terms.

Moving further down the food chain now -- one foot in front of the other.