Hillary Clinton's campaign van (aka the 'Scooby' van) in which she has been traveling covertly across country arrived in Iowa this afternoon for a roundtable campaign event, and needless to say, reporters were eager to catch a glimpse of the candidate.
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
U.S. Senator and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz claims gay-rights advocates are waging a "jihad" against religious freedom, but it's Cruz who may be on a political suicide mission against same-sex marriage.
Right Wing Watch reports on Cruz's latest remarks in Iowa on Thursday:
Cruz, speaking at a panel moderated by conservative talk show host Steve Deace, who regularly castigates the “Rainbow Jihad,” told the crowd of homeschooling activists that they should fear “the jihad that is being waged right now in Indiana and Arkansas, going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
By condemning this gay “jihad,” Cruz said, he could “bring people together” to defend religious freedom.
Before he opens his mouth again, Cruz may want to look up the origin of the Arabic word "jihad" — which actually referred to an effort to practice religion in the face of oppression and persecution.
Nowadays, of course, "jihad" has become synonymous with "holy war." But if there's anyone waging a holy war, it's Cruz himself.
Since announcing his candidacy last month at Liberty University, Cruz has embarked on an anti-gay rampage as he attempts to nail down evangelical Christian support in early voting states like Iowa and South Carolina.
Last week in Iowa, Cruz said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality would be "fundamentally illegitimate," and vowed to respond by trying to strip justices of their jurisdiction over the issue. From The Dallas Morning News:
“Every one of us is concerned about the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision likely coming in June,” he said. “The first thing and I think the most important thing every one of us can do, is pray. Lift up in prayer. ...
“If the court tries to do this it will be rampant judicial activism. It will be lawlessness, it will be fundamentally illegitimate,” he said.
Earlier this week, Cruz joined five other Republican senators and 53 GOP representatives in filing a brief against same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court. But as The Houston Chronicle reports, while Cruz's strategy may play well in states like Iowa and South Carolina, it could ultimately doom his campaign:
Cruz has aimed squarely at religious conservatives in his quest to be president, but a raft of polls suggests that he and other evangelical candidates could be mining a shrinking older demographic that remains morally opposed to gay marriage. ...
Although the Cruz strategy could pay dividends in Iowa, some say the Hawkeye State has a poor record of boosting eventual GOP nominees.
"Do you see a President Pat Buchanan?" said former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, an adviser to GOP hopeful Jeb Bush. "Do you see a President Rick Santorum? Do you see a President Pat Robertson?"
Watch video of Cruz's remarks about the gay "jihad" and the Supreme Court's marriage ruling, AFTER THE JUMP ...
Eric Reece Wiethorn (right), a 49-year-old man from Ames, Iowa was arrested for first-degree harassment for a letter he sent to Blazing Saddle, a gay bar in Des Moines, Iowa containing a death threat and a white powder that Wiethorn had said was the deadly poison "anthrax" but turned out to be Gold Bond Medicated Powder.
Fire, police, and hazmat crews were called to the scene.
Wiethorn, who was arrested on an anonymous tip and admitted to the crime, is being held at the Polk County Jail on $2,000 bond.
Watch a report on the incident, AFTER THE JUMP...
Students, alumni and staff at a Catholic High School in Des Moines, Iowa staged a walkout on Wednesday following a decision to not hire a substitute teacher full time once it was discovered that he was gay, reports the Des Moines Register.
On Tuesday, Des Moines Catholic Schools administrators sent a letter to parents explaining the decision was because the applicant's personal life "was at odds with Church teaching."
The letter further stated:
"Our contracts contain specific language that outline the expected code of conduct in accord with long accepted Church teaching. The Catholic faith is central to our mission, and in order to deliver on that mission, it is our expectation that staff and teachers support our moral beliefs."
16-year-old sophomore and event walkout organizer Grace Mumm said:
"I just want the community to know that this is a really important topic, and that just because our school officials or diocesan leaders might have made this decision, it does not directly reflect what we believe as students.”
Watch Mumm explain the reasons for the walkout and read the school's letter to parents, AFTER THE JUMP...(warning: autoplay)
Yesterday, we reported that Oregon's 2014 Teacher of the Year Brett Bigham alleged that he was fired by his school district after speaking openly about being gay.
In a straight (no pun intended) party-line vote, the Iowa Senate on Tuesday approved a proposal to ban gay conversion therapy for minors.
Twenty six Democrats voted in favor of the measure, while 24 Republicans voted against it.
The bill would prohibit licensed mental health professionals from attempting to change the sexual orientation of anyone under 18. Only California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., have passed similar laws.
The Des Moines Register reports:
Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, urged support for the bill, saying lawmakers were seeking to prohibit a discredited practice.
"I am heterosexual, and I would hate to go to a therapist who would try to convert me to be gay," said Bolkcom, adding that the legislation would send the message to Iowans that "being gay is OK." ...
Sen. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola, spoke against the bill, saying the most important issue is one of choice.
"There may be parents and minors who desire this kind of counseling, and should we deprive them of that choice, particularly if they want to go to a licensed professional?" Garrett said. "I believe we ought to leave this choice up to the parent and the minors involved. If they do want it, it should be their right."
Openly gay Iowa Sen. Matt McCoy (right) called conversion therapy "the worst kind of child abuse" and urged his colleagues to "stand on the right side of history." Unfortunately, the bill isn't likely to pass the Republican-controlled House, due to opposition from Christian conservatives.
It's interesting that these so-called Christians couch arguments against conversion therapy bans in terms of freedom, yet they do not support the freedom to marry.
Also, it's notable that unlike other proposed conversion therapy bans around the country, the Iowa bill — which you can read here — doesn't include gender identity.
This is a curious exclusion, especially in the wake of the highly publicized suicide of trans teen Leelah Alcorn.
Most state and national LGBT organizations have long had a policy of not supporting legislation that isn't fully trans-inclusive. So it's unclear to us why this standard isn't being applied to conversion therapy bans.
CORRECTION: Gender identity and expression are included in the Iowa bill under the definition of "sexual orientation change efforts."