Marriage Equality Under Attack in Iowa on Eve of Bus Tour Targeting Pro-Equality Supreme Court Judges


A frightening update on the right-wing campaign to rid the Iowa Supreme Court of judges who approved marriage equality in the state in 2009, from the Iowa Independent:

Iowa The campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices over a 2009 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage has attracted the attention of some of the most influential conservative organizations in America, each working together and sharing materials, funding and staff with Iowa groups and churches.

That coordination will be on full display next week, when anti-gay marriage groups and politicians will hold 20 events in four days around the state hoping to rally public opinion against Iowa judges.

The face of the campaign, Bob Vander Plaats’ group Iowa for Freedom, is a project of Mississippi-based American Family Association. But they are not alone. The Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, Georgia-based Faith & Freedom Coalition and New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage all bring direct funding or in-kind legal and promotional support to local organizations looking to oust the justices.

More from the Iowa Independent here on how each of these organizations is involved:

AFF-300x180 Vander Plaats has repeatedly denied that AFA is the sole funding source of his Iowa for Freedom campaign, even though Iowa for Freedom is listed as a “project of AFA Action Inc.” on all of its campaign material.

Family Research Council is sponsoring an Iowa bus tour next week featuring FRC President Tony Perkins and other state and national leaders urging Iowans to vote against retaining the three justices on the ballot. The tour will kick off on Monday at the state Capitol and conclude at a Thursday night rally in front of the Iowa Supreme Court building.

National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown is co-sponsoring the Family Research Council’s statewide bus tour of Iowa next week.

Iowa Family Policy Center has received more than $3 million in federal funding through the national Healthy Marriage and Compassion Capital grants via the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Point of Grace is  on a list of partner organizations for IFPC’s federal marriage program. As to whether or not the church received any federal money, Luke Vogel, director of financing for Point of Grace, said via e-mail, “I am unaware of Point of Grace ever receiving any funds from IFPC of any kind.”

Vander Plaats has tried to deny that out-of-state money is funding his campaign to oust the judges. Check out this video:

And now for the bus tour:


The Iowa Independent mentions the bus tour. It's a 20-city tour that will feature many of Iowa's most hateful religious-right bigots and homophobic elected officials. Rick Santorum is even making an appearance on October 26.

The Des Moines Register reports on it:

The Family Research Council's political action committee is one of two groups sponsoring a 45-county bus tour urging Iowans to vote "no" to Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit.

The campaign includes Republicans U.S. Rep. Steve King of western Iowa, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert Jr., who was an elected district court judge in his home state of Texas.

Check out the Iowa hate-a-palooza 'Judge Bus' tour schedule HERE. It starts on Monday.

Here's NOM's latest ad calling on Iowans to reject the judges:

Iowa for Freedom is going so far as to stalk and harass the justices. Here's a video that was posted on their website showing someone harassing Judge David Baker and Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, two of the judges up for retention:

The bottom line is that conservatives are pouring money into Iowa because they are scared to death of the precedent marriage equality in that state is setting for the rest of the nation, and they will do anything to get it overturned.

Along with the Justices, they are working hard to unseat governor Chet Culver as well.

One Iowa is the main gay rights group on the ground in Iowa. They need all the help and funds they can get to fight these bigots, as does Culver's campaign. If you feel so inclined, help them out.

Here's a report just in on Culver's debate last night with opponent Terry Branstad:

"Branstad surely disappointed some Iowans by again refusing to say how he'll vote on retention of the three Supreme Court justices and on the constitutional amendment seeking to create a trust fund for natural resources. Many voters are still making up their minds on both issues, and the retention question is particularly volatile. Branstad, who has said he disagrees with the high court's ruling on gay marriage, should say whether he thinks the justices, some of whom he appointed, should be retained."


  1. Tyler says

    Great job Andy.

    The race is fairly close, and this amount of outside money pouring into it can’t be good. However, last time a poll came out, I believe the judges were still up by 4 points.

  2. Brent Z says

    As someone who lives in Iowa and is married my same sex husband this is frightening. I feel like some sort of Nazi movement is building in this country and wonder where it will lead.

  3. mike says

    Sincere, non-rhetorical, question:

    If the judges are not retained, what happens? By what process can marriage equality in Iowa be taken away?

    Typically, the new Governor and Court would be powerless to intervene and halt marriage equality until the Iowa Constitution has been changed, as happened in the Prop 8 fiasco.

    Obviously no one wants a more conservative Court or Governor, but I’d like to believe that the voters’ mood would shift in favor of marriage equality by time anti-gay forces could do anything to halt same-sex marriage.

  4. Pointless says

    I see no point in fighting for rights – with upcoming wins by republican haters, we are doomed. Why can’t we all just get along. No one is telling hets they can’t get married, etc. If you don’t like gays, then don’t be one. If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t have one. If you don’t want gays in your church, that is just freaking fine with me. With all the resources being wasted on hate, there are none left for love. There is just too much hate. I just don’t understand why everyone hates us so much.

  5. Bob says

    At best, the three judges will lose their jobs but it will not alter the 2009 decision. The tactic is to scare justices to weigh, not in favor of the state constitution but to the extremist.

    At this time the best messaging we can use, is the “stop homophobia” message which has effectively crossed many a moderate and conservative barrier. The more we make clear that this is just an anti-gay movement, the better off we all are.

  6. Pira says

    @Pointless: I feel that now more than ever is to the time to fight harder. We need to show the world ourselves for the people we are, as a counter to the campaigns out there to de-humanize us. I do agree that far too much money is being poured into hate and destruction though, if even 1% of all the money spent on waging these last two wars was spent instead on making the world a better place, the difference would be astounding.

  7. Lez says

    As an outsider (Australian) I just have to ask why does the NOM ad only have white people in it – could it be they have more than one bigotry trait? And why don’t they, if they are “Christians” start acting like it?

  8. RichardR says

    Great coverage, Towleroad. I used the link you provided which does facilitate contributions but doesn’t really give information about what One Iowa is doing in the retention campaign and against the hateful bus crap. I emailed One Iowa and they responded with another link: http://www.fairnessfundiowa. It’s more informative and also facilitates contributions. I really hope we can stop NOM, etc. on this one.

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