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Watch: Iowa Gubernatorial Candidates Terry Branstad and Chet Culver Field Questions About Marriage Equality

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As a follow-up to my earlier post on the situation in Iowa, here's a clip from last night's Iowa gubernatorial debate between current Governor Chet Culver and former Governor Terry Branstad, in which the candidates field two separate questions about marriage equality.

Branstad's a big FAIL, Culver a big win.

Jeremy Hooper at Good as You, on Governor Chet Culver's answer: "Yes! Finally. An apt articulation of law, the role of the independent judiciary in determining the constitutionality of said law, and the reason why the conversation between a unanimous high court decision vs. a public vote on minority rights is not an equally merited tête-à-tête."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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

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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:

Bustour

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."


Gay Marriage Defended, Attacked During Iowa Gov. Debate

Branstad Iowa Gov. Chet Culver stood up for his his state's gay marriage law during a debate with Republican rival Terry Branstad last night.

Asked whether same-sex nuptials have had an impact on the state, Culver insisted, "It has not had an effect on the state of Iowa, other than allowing people to make their own decisions." He added, "We should not write discrimination into the Iowa Constitution."

Republican Terry Branstad, not surprisingly, disagreed, and insisted that Iowa voters should be given a vote on a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay love, which was approved by the state's Supreme Court in 2009: “The people of Iowa are the ones that should have the final say on this,” proclaimed Branstad, pictured here. “They should be given the same opportunity as 31 other states and every state from Maine to California where it’s been on the ballot, the people have voted for it."

Culver brushed off Branstad's remarks, saying, quite rightly, "We need to move on. We need to move forward. We do not need to add discrimination to our constitution, something that would only take us backwards on civil rights."

On a related note, Culver, who's trailing in the polls, will attend a dinner tonight for the Fairness Fund, which backs LGBT candidates.


Iowa GOP Rejects Major Anti-Gay Bigot Bob Vander Plaats in Favor of Governor Who Signed Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Rabid anti-gay bigot Bob Vander Plaats Iowa gubernatorial campaign was extinguished last night by Iowa voters who realize that marriage equality is not affecting anyone and there are bigger issues to worry about. Vander Plaats lost the primary to former Iowa governor Terry Branstad, who still may pose a threat to same-sex marriage in the state if elected.

Vanderplaats Vander Plaats campaign was largely built around getting rid of the state's marriage equality law.

Said Vander Plaats in April: "The definition of marriage is also going to be an issue in the campaign, and in particular where the incumbent governor and the Democrat-controlled legislature is saying, 'We don't even want to hear from the people on this issue. The courts have said it so therefore we're going to back away and wash our hands of it.' I think that's going to be a major in the 2010 campaign."

The NYT reported on Monday:

"With Iowans going to polls on Tuesday, same-sex marriage has been a matter of debate among the Republican candidates for governor, but the issue appears to have been overtaken by voters’ worries about jobs, the economy and the state’s budget misery. 'Too many other things are upsetting people,' said David A. Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University and a former political reporter for The Des Moines Register."

Iowa Governor Chet Culver, who has supported the Supreme Court's decision upholding marriage equality in the state, will now face Branstad, who served 16 years as Iowa's governor and left office in January 1999.

Vander Plaats wanted three of those Supreme Court justices removed. He says he's planning a meeting with Branstad.

Branstad signed the law banning same-sex marriage in the state which was struck down by the court. He also supports a vote on a constitutional amendment banning it. But he has made no threats to the court.


Iowa Governor Chet Culver Praises Lawmakers for Not Taking Up Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

Iowa Governor Chet Culver, who believes in opposite marriage, today praised lawmakers for not taking up an amendment that would strike down the state's marriage equality law, the Sioux City Journal reports.

Culver Said Culver: "We stood firm for the civil rights of every Iowan by saying loudly and clearly that any and all efforts to add discriminatory amendments to our state constitution have no place in our state constitution. Regardless of our personal views, we have a line that needs to be drawn between the executive branch and the judicial branch and I think Iowans are ready to move on and accept that unanimous decision. I think the overwhelming majority of Iowans do not want to amend our constitution in such a way that's discriminatory. I think that's the bottom line. I think Iowans want to move forward and the Supreme Court has spoken loudly and clearly and I think it's time to move on."

Not that they didn't try.

As you may remember, in February the Iowa House GOP implemented an obscure House rule to try to get a same-sex marriage ban in front of legislators for consideration. The GOP in the Senate tried the same thing. At least four Democrats have since signed on to their cause.


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