On Wednesday, 56 Republicans in the Iowa House introduced a resolution to overturn the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Varnum v. Brien, which struck down Iowa’s law denying marriage to same-sex couples. The measure would allow voters to consider an amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would eliminate not only same-sex marriages, but also civil unions. It states: “Marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state.”
Conservatives are also rallying behind three-time failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, who is spearheading his own campaign to “build statewide support for all ‘pro-family’ government policies” and oust the four remaining judges who voted for marriage in 2009. Plaats is courting potential Republican presidential nominees to endorse his agenda and will likely force national Republicans vying for higher office to take a position on the state’s numerous anti-marriage initiatives. To bolster his case, Plaats has embarked on a 99-county tour of the state to introduce voters to his new group, The Family Leader. During one such event, Plaats was challenged on his marriage views by two supporters of marriage equality. In the amusing exchange that follows, Plaats compares same-sex marriage to polygamy, rails against “absolute tolerance” and calls for government to adhere to “higher standards” than the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence:
Q: How is preventing same-sex couples from getting married not going against the 14th amendment….[or] the first Amendment against the establishment of religion. By using your values and putting them in our legal system, how is that legal? [...]
PLAATS: We’re not denying anyone the right to the institution of marriage….we’re just saying it needs to be one man and one woman.
Q: You’re denying them marriage, just not your definition of marriage. [...]
PLAATS: It’s not my definition of marriage.
Q: It’s the bible’s and the Constitution prohibits any law respecting the establishment of religion.
PLAATS: And the Declaration of Independence, much like the law of nature, and the law of nature is God. ….The First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment, I’m glad you recite those, but I think there are higher standards. I really do. Because if it comes down to my standards, or your standards, it becomes absolute tolerance [...]
To me, the danger in that — let everyone in this country just explore their truth. So under that paradigm, I can inform Darla tonight, I’m going to marry Mary and Sue with you, that’s my truth…but if you want to explore the truth and say let’s just put whatever standards where. That can happen. And everybody shakes their head and says that’s not what we’re talking about, but that’s what we’re talking. [...] We’re going to be a vehicle of truth about what the Bible says and what the Constitution says.
A poll released last week found that 34 percent of Iowans supported full same-sex marriage rights, while 28 percent favored “only civil unions.” Thirty-four percent of respondents said they were “against any recognition.” Meanwhile, 54 percent of responders said they opposed impeaching the judges who brought same-sex marriage to the state.
Earlier this month, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady defended the court’s decision to overturn the Iowa Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by reminding lawmakers that “the duty of courts to review the constitutionality of laws is known as judicial review and is one of our most basic responsibilities.” “This is the very duty the court exercised in the Varnum decision,” he said. (H/T: Good As You)