IA Gov. Terry Branstad Wants ‘To Treat Everybody With Fairness,’ But That Doesn’t Include Gays Marrying

Well, I think the court made a mistake… Well, I want to treat everybody with fairness and equity, but I don’t think that includes meaning that people of the same sex should be able to be married. I don’t want to discriminate or treat people in an unfair manner, but this is something that is a new right, that never existed before and one certainly that a vast majority of Iowans don’t think was appropriate to be done the way it was done. I think the people of Iowa should have an opportunity to vote on that issue. … This is an issue that should be decided by the people. And my problem is with the Legislature not letting the people vote on it, and I think a lot of people felt very frustrated because they did not get an opportunity to vote on it.

—Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who went from refusing to comment on the Iowa Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling to railing against it, makes it clear he does not include gay Iowans in his version of equality [via]

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #iowa #iowasupremecourt #jerks stories and more


  • the crustybastard

    If a sitting governor make a public statement:

    “Well, I think the court made a mistake…Well, I want to treat everybody with fairness and equity, but I don’t think that includes meaning that negros should be able to attend white schools. I don’t want to discriminate or treat negros in an unfair manner, but this is something that is a new right, that never existed before and one certainly that a vast majority of Iowans don’t think was appropriate to be done the way it was done. I think the people of Iowa should have an opportunity to vote on that issue…This is an issue that should be decided by the people. And my problem is with the Legislature not letting the people vote on it, and I think a lot of people felt very frustrated because they did not get an opportunity to vote on it.”

    …the the media and the public would make unqualified denunciations of that bigotry. They would practically make a competition of who could be the most pious anti-racist.

    But because the victims of precisely the same kind of bigotry are gay, IF — and that’s a very big “if” — this story makes its way outside the gay media, 50-75% the people will agree fully with Branstad, and the other half will quietly congratulate themselves for overcoming their own bigotry, then shrug and say, “Meh. Well, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

  • GregorVonK

    This kind of statement is actually not at all uncommon–among politicos who want to hedge their bets, of course, AND among the gen. public who perceive themselves as unbiased but who want to “preserve traditional marriage.” You get it all the time from people who “might” support civil unions or some other, conceivable legal recognition of gay couples, but it’s as far as some people seem to be able to go. For now.

    Of course these are also the terms that the anti-gay forces also use. (You’ll never get Maggie or Bryan to admit they’re anti-gay). I don’t live in IA, and I don’t know Branstad’s track record on gay issues in general, but whatever’s in his own unenlightened heart, this kind of argument needs to be effectively countered.

    And it can be. Women’s suffrage was a “new right” at one time. It took a cultural shift to accept that, but eventually it became a given. Full civil rights for African Americans was almost certainly inconceivable to a majority of Americans at one time. The “newness” of a right has little or nothing to do with its legitimacy (OR it’s constitutionality)

  • justiceontherocks

    Let’s hope Boies and Olson get in front of the Supremes soon, that we have a finding that the US Constitution demands marriage equality, and then all this nonsense can be over.

  • Andy

    “Well, I want to treat everybody with fairness and equity, but”

    “I don’t want to discriminate or treat people in an unfair manner, but”

    Taking away contract rights (which is what marriage is) is no different than saying that Jews can’t own business. Stop these Nazis.

  • the crustybastard


    Bigotry is one of America’s natural resource that can be recycled endlessly. Governor Branstad simply recycled the execrable former Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus’ “it’s a new right” defense of segregation.

    In a 1957 interview with Mike Wallace, []l Faubus defended his decision to deploy the Arkansas National Guard to bar nine black high-schoolers from entering a Little Rock high school — while shamelessly decrying hate and violence.

    “Well, malice, envy, hate is deplorable, in any place or in any circumstances, but as President Eisenhower has said himself, you can’t change the hearts of people by law. Now, in view of the progress that we have made, all I ask for in this situation, and all I’ve ever asked for, is some time for the situation to change for it to become acceptable, so that there would not be disorder and violence. And if so be that this right, which was ruled as proper by the Supreme Court for 80 or 90 years, and then was upset all at once in 1954. If it is right, it will come about. So, why should we be so impatient as to want to force it, because force begets force, hate begets hate, malice begets malice. But, if time was given for an adjustment of the attitudes and the feelings of people, then it can be peacefully accomplished, which would be better for all concerned…” [emphasis mine]

    Governor Faubus also deployed the “courts are forcing it down our throats” argument — while calling himself a liberal.

    “…we are sometimes the children of faith and circumstance; I think I am such because I’ve always termed myself a liberal and have been so termed by my associates in the conference of governors, both in Arkansas. It is the simple fact that these things cannot be done overnight. Time is the healer of all wounds and the solution to many problems. And we just can’t do this thing at once. Force begets force. One of the things that makes it so unpleasant about all of this is that when people feel that it is being forced down their throat, against their will, then they naturally react. The American people have always been that way, Mr. Wallace. [emphasis mine]

    The homophobes of today are IN NO WAY DIFFERENT than the segregationists of yesterday.

  • GregorVonK

    @the crustybastard: I agree, Crusty, and I hope you don’t think I’m implying anything else. I do believe that this kind of (in my view) ignorant speech has to be countered w/ well-reasoned arguments from our side, but I would never buy into the Faubus argument of let’s-just-wait-for-hearts-and-minds-to-change. You could wait til Arkansas froze over (or something).

  • 1844

    What I don’t get is why the Gov’ner thinks it appropriate for human rights to be voted upon. As has been said above the rights of black children to go to school was determined by a court decision; the rights of black and white men and women to marry was determined by a court decision. Has there ever been a time when the rights of a minority have been “graciously” bestowed by a majority? I, for one, don’t think so.

  • Jeffree

    So much of the anti-SSM crowd confuses “marriage” with “wedding.” They believe –and have been led to think –that churches will be forced to perform “gay weddings”.

    Some of the so called “liberals” have no idea of the legal and financial advantages that we’re denied. The NOM and FOtF people tend to give the impression that we’re just trying to have weddings.

    “Letting the people vote” is no way to extend civil rights because the antis are way better at getting their people out to vote,.

  • Steve

    @1844: The act of people voting on other people’s right is a relatively new phenomenon. If you go through our history, such votes were rare (if they even existed) until gay rights were introduced.

    The way I see it, the “let people vote on marriage” is something of a psychological trick: by putting gay marriage up to a general vote, it creates the impression that gay marriage is something that will involve everyone, that it will impact everybody and everything on a mass scale. Now, any rational person can tell you such implications are bull. However, these impressions coupled with general ignorance about homosexuality pretty much guarantee that the majority of the voters will vote against said changes, because they believe that these changes will harm them and everyone that they know and love. And this tactic doesn’t even include the amount of anti-gay propaganda leading up to said votes.

    Now, while judicial votes only further to upset people (since up until then thay have been lied to and said that they deserve to vote on each and every single little thing), they are a core asset to our legal system. Marbury v. Madison is pretty much a mandatory topic to learn if you want to understand our legal system, as it was that case that set up judicial review, and gave birth to checks and balances. Anyone who opposes such powers really only wish to work against and cripple their own government.

    Its quite funny, in a realistically terrifying way.

  • the crustybastard

    @GregorVonK: “ignorant speech has to be countered w/ well-reasoned arguments from our side…”

    I used to think so, but if polite, well-reasoned arguments haven’t worked yet, they’re unlikely to work tomorrow.

    Bigotry is an article of faith, not a reasoned conclusion; therefore bigots cannot be educated out of their beliefs. Their bigotry must be made shameful, and not something one advocates in polite company.

    To that end, WE need to start framing the argument if we want to win it. We need to educate ourselves so we can start putting them on the defensive for a change. Previous civil rights movements have done much of the heavy lifting. There is nothing wrong with borrowing and adapting all their successful strategies.

    We need to label these assholes “neo-segregationists” or “marriage segregationists” and show how their arguments precisely mirror the utterly discredited rhetoric of the old segregationists.

    When we call bigots “bigots,” they counter by claiming they don’t feel hate. They win, because you can’t empirically prove somebody feels something. If you call them “segregationists,” how can they counter that? They can’t because they are demonstrably trying to maintain the legal superiority of heterosexual relationships by keeping marriage exclusive.

  • the crustybastard

    @Steve: “The act of people voting on other people’s right is a relatively new phenomenon. If you go through our history, such votes were rare (if they even existed) until gay rights were introduced.”

    In 1958, Faubus called an extraordinary session of the Arkansas Legislature to enact laws to forestal desegregation. They passed a law allowing the governor and school board to close all public schools in the Little Rock District, if endorsed by a public referendum.

    Faubus campaigned for the public to vote for the closure, intending to lease the public schools to private companies who remained free to segregate. The people of Little Rock passed Faubus’ measure 3:1, but his privatization plan was foiled by a federal court on the same day. The public schools were closed from September 1958 through August of 1959 — “The Lost Year.” Perversely, whites blamed blacks for the school closures, and hate crimes were perpetrated.

    So yes, there are instances in history where the public has voted on a minority’s rights, because politicians know the majority will even step on their own collective dicks if it means doing greater harm to the minority.

  • Atomicrob

    I agree. I am quite sick of reading this kind of bigotry. If you substitute the word “gay” with any other racial, ethnic or minority label, there would be a collective outcry. We need to collective admonish these ignorant comments. They are unacceptable.

  • jason

    Branstad is a basic idiot. He’s got a potato where his brain cells should be.

  • Marlene

    @the crustybastard:

    Both the 1964 Voting Rights Act, and the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote were based on the majority voting on the rights of minorities, but on a legislative level, not the public.

    However, I would not be surprised that at least on the men who voted for the Amendment, some lost their seats due to their actions. Remember LBJ’s famous line of the Democrats losing the south for a generation because of his support for civil rights? That was a *clear* example of people voting out congressmen and senators strictly *because* they supported equal rights.

    So suffice it to say, even though the people rarely voted on the rights of minorities up until the present day, there are more than a few examples where the voting public had voted against those who supported equality.

  • Jaroslaw

    Jason – I think you just insulted potatoes!

  • Tom

    Dear Queerty, we refer to the governor as ‘Governor Braindead’ if you’d be so kind as to oblige us in the future when reporting on this ninkumpoop!

  • Jocelyn

    @Jeffree: I think this is exactly the problem. As an Iowa resident, and watching this whole bill thing go about, where they want to allow businesses to discriminate per religious views and ethics… We are, once again, confusing church and state. It is a freedom of choice, yes, but to discriminate business against someone simply because you disapprove of the way they live their life is like discriminating against someone for their sex, skin, or hair color. It’s simply ridiculous, and extremely bigoted. As a graduate of a Catholic school, I’ve seen the separation between the school systems… we were allowed to fire teachers for getting pregnant out of wedlock, (and “violating their contract” by doing so), whereas if you tried to do the same thing at a public school, you would have a massive lawsuit on your hands. The parochial schools are protected because they are not government funded institutions, they are public. If you choose to open a business, you are making it a public matter, and therefore discriminating business is unethical, and illogical for your own gain. Can’t we simply follow the Constitution’s very beginning statement and “insure domestic tranquility, and promote the general welfare”? I may be wrong, but the last time I checked, the term general is all inclusive.

  • Marlene

    Jocelyn — As a matter of fact a business can’t do that, because it violates the entire Fourteenth Amendment, not to mention the fact that the Free Exercise Clause cannot trump and other right in the Constitution!

    The *only* way a private entity can do that is if it’s officially attached to a church, ie the parochial schools.

    We had this argument in my town of Bowling Green, Ohio over a battle with keeping two non-discrimination ordinances. One of the backers of the repeal claimed his religious beliefs trumped the Constitutional rights of those he discriminated against.

  • the crustybastard

    @Jocelyn: “…parochial schools are protected because they are not government funded institutions…”


    “Chapter 2 of the [Federal] Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981 channels federal funds via state educational agencies (SEA’s) to local educational agencies (LEA’s), which in turn lend educational materials and equipment, such as library and media materials and computer software and hardware, to public and private elementary and secondary schools…In an average year, about 30% of Chapter 2 funds spent in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, are allocated for private schools, most of which are Catholic or otherwise religiously affiliated. []

    The current SCOTUS decided there was no problem with a state funneling nearly a third of its federal grants directly to parochial schools. In the case referenced above (Mitchell v. Helms, 2000), SCOTUS approved of taxpayer-funded computers being effectively gifted to Catholic schools because they were not deemed to “advance religion.”

    Prior courts have held; states may loan textbooks to religious schools (Cochran v Louisiana Board of Ed., 1930); reimburse parents for the cost of bussing to religious schools (Everson v Board of Ed., 1947); federal building construction grants may be awarded to religious colleges (Tilton v. Richardson, 1971); general grants may be awarded to religious schools (Roemer v. Maryland Bd. of Pub. Works, 1976); feds may pay for a blind person’s religious vocation training to a Bible college (Witters v. Washington Dept. of Social Services, 1986); government may pay for ASL interpreters to work at religious schools (Zobrest v Catalina Foothills School Dist., 1993), and pay special-ed teachers to work in religious schools (Agostini v. Felton, 1997);

    Federal law allows parochial schools to participate in the federal school lunch subsidy program, and take additional federal subsidies to accommodate disabled students. States are evidently free to allow “school vouchers” and funds from income tax credits to be channeled directly to parochial schools, tax-free.

    Furthermore, parochial schools enjoy the benefits of a constellation of expensive public accommodations that they are specially exempt from having to pay for (water treatment plants and sewage systems, police and courts, fire protection, roads, etc.). That means the government has burden-shifted these (often very wealthy) institution’s fair share of the public expense to the public as a whole requiring non-religious people to subsidize them.

    In short, religions have decided that they’re (a) entitled to a share of taxpayer funds, despite not contributing to the fund, and (b) entitled to use courts they don’t pay for to demand special legal rights to ignore any laws they don’t want to respect.

  • Jaroslaw

    Crusty – I thought I read a lot about interracial matters, but I did not know Arkansas had a “lost year.” Absolutely amazing.

    Now, I am aware of all the court decisions you mentioned except the one about reimbursing parents for bussing children to religious schools. A state “may” presumably means it is not required? I went to public school and the school bus went right by all the Catholic kids houses and right by the Catholic school on the way to the public school so it wasn’t a problem at all where I grew up.

    I would also dispute that parochial schools are exempt from paying for a “constellation” of services. Their parents are paying taxes for public schools which they do not use (I don’t argue at all that is their choice, but they are still paying.) And I don’t think the parochial school gets free water either! So they are paying for the treatment plant since all revenues (again where I live at least) come from the water bill!

    I’m not making the case for public funds to go to Catholic schools just pointing out how it worked where I grew up.

  • the crustybastard

    @Jaroslaw: “A state “may” presumably means it is not required?”

    Right — a “may” is neither a “must” nor a “shall.” If a state chooses to do one of those things, SCOTUS has determined that state action does not offend the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause insofar as that is incorporated with regard to the several states.

    As an aside, it is the opinion of Justices Scalia and Thomas that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause is NOT incorporated; meaning, for example, that Alabama is free to establish an official state religion.

    “I would also dispute that parochial schools are exempt from paying for a “constellation” of services. Their parents are paying taxes for public schools which they do not use…”

    So what? People who never had children are also paying for public schools they will never actually use, but will nonetheless ultimately derive a benefit from. And the fact that a shop’s customers pay their taxes doesn’t somehow exclude the shop from paying its share of taxes. Further, merely because a parochial school pays its water bill doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve paid a dime toward developing water standards and testing, constructing the water treatment plant, laying and maintaining pipes, etc. Those costs are typically line items in state budgets funded by some combination of taxes, bonds, special assessments and federal matching funds — all of which parochial schools don’t contribute towards because they are exempt by virtue of their religious association.

    But I think the issue is getting terribly confused here. The point I was making to Jocelyn is that if X takes money from Z in exchange for goods or services, that’s a business transaction — not the exercise of religion. Therefore, parochial schools that accept public monies and tuition payments are a public accommodation and a business, not a church, and should be regarded under the law as such. That means they should have no special right to discriminate even if their associated church enjoys that right.

  • Jaroslaw

    I get your point about the shop, I think, but my point is the parents are already paying public school taxes. Nothing is lost. If anything, we can flip the equation on its head and say why are the public schools perpetually broke when they aren’t even serving ALL the children who MIGHT be attending them?

    If water development is a line item in the budget, then again, ALL property owners are paying taxes and all employed persons are paying income taxes; if you added a tax to the parochial school, they would have to raise tuition and you would be taxing those parents twice. But that is the issue – is a parochial school considered a public accomodation/business under the law? Certainly no parochial school I’m aware of makes a profit – they are ALWAYS ALWAYS a drain on the affiliated Church.

  • the crustybastard

    @Jaroslaw: “if you added a tax to the parochial school, they would have to raise tuition and you would be taxing those parents twice.”

    Nope. If the parents pay higher tuition costs to offset the parochial school’s tax bill, then they are merely paying the actual and unsubsidized costs of the private education.

    Think of it like a dealership that sells DLUX luxury SUVs. Imagine DLUX dealers got a special exemption from paying property taxes, thereby obligating the entire public (even non-drivers) to pay higher rates and effectively giving a special public subsidy to every DLUX dealer and DLUX buyer, even the superwealthy? You can’t afford/don’t want a DLUX, so you bought a used Krepwagen. Aren’t you the one getting double-taxed since you paid taxes on your car and also have to subsidize my DLUX? Shouldn’t DLUX dealers just fractionalize all their business costs (including tax bills) among all or most of their customers, like your Krepwagen dealer had to?

    “But that is the issue – is a parochial school considered a public accomodation/business under the law?”

    No. They enjoy all or most of the special exemptions and tax benefits of a church, even as they operate as a business entity (and here’s the FU part) directly competing against public schools. (Indeed, parochial schools actually harm the public education system by “creaming off” top students and effectively maintaining more-or-less racially segregated school districts.) My argument is that this state of affairs manifestly violates the Establishment Clause and is fundamentally unfair.

    Parochial schools are typically incorporated as a non-profit business entity, thus “making a profit” would be unlawful. If a church and its congregation believes it advances their interests to sink cash into a money-losing exclusive religious school, they’re certainly free to do so.

    But that church and its congregation shouldn’t have any right to pick my pocket to advance their interests.

    (As a personal aside, I’ve enjoyed having this discussion with you. It’s not often that one can engage in respectful, civilized discourse absent name-calling, &c.)

  • Jaroslaw

    Well Crusty – I thank you for noticing we had a civil discussion. Same to you. I’m on another blog where because I simply defend my ideas I was accused of being ‘angry.’ No, I just didn’t agree with the other person. But even when I did, he just turned the tables.

    Now, when you say “nope” to my double taxation argument, the parochial school is NOT picking your pocket because the parents are already paying taxes for the public school they don’t use.

    Let’s not overlook my other statement – what would the public schools do if they had to take in all the students currently enrolled should parochial schools closed? They are broke with ALL the parents paying taxes but only 2/3 of them sending their children!

    “Parochial schools harm the public schools by taking the ‘cream’ of the students?” You state is as a fact but I think its opinion. My educated guess is that parents who pay tuition on top of taxes are much more interested in their children’s progress and study habits. I also happen to know tons of people who went to Catholic school and many were by no means the brightest!

    I’m not arguing that a congregation can’t sink their money into a cash losing school, we agree. I guess I got tangled up in the “its a business” comment that you made and didn’t express myself properly. If you argue it should pay taxes, then I guess a money losing business would get a refund from the government – much as low income people get a tax refund? :) In other words that’s not a feasible position to take.

    (And in actual fact, children who attend Catholic school actually end up being LESS faithful as adults than those who do not. So kind of an odd situation if you ask me)

  • the crustybastard


    ISSUE 1: Isn’t it a break-even?

    No. The entire public bears the cost of public education whether they actually use the school or not, because it’s long been considered a community good. It’s like fire protection. You pay for fire protection to be available — not just when you use the service.

    Let’s imagine an enterprising person opens HotFix, a private fire department. For a subscription, you’ll get a special enhanced fire-response guarantee. You’re certainly free to pay for that peace of mind, and I think you should be largely free to prefer to be extinguished by HotFix. Neither of those choices excuses you from paying your communal share to the regular fire department. HotFix or private religious education is something that inures a special personal benefit to the buyer. It inures no larger benefit to the community, because it functionally duplicates existing services. Here’s the thing: even though you pay for private school and private fire protection, you are still deriving benefit from the public versions, and still have access to them though you choose not to avail yourself.

    Conversely, when I am forced to subsidize your private school and your private fire response services, my pocket is being picked to pay for services I am excluded from enjoying. It is not symmetrical, it is not fair, and it is not a break-even.

    ISSUE 2: What would the public schools do if they took all the parochial students?

    In my state (and I believe this is typical), public schools are financed on a per student basis. Let’s say the school gets $500/yr/student and has a fixed operating cost of $10K/yr. If 75 kids go to the neighborhood school, it gets $37.5K (- $10K = $27.5K: $366/student). If they take the 25 kids from the Catholic school, they have $50K (- $10K = $40K: $400/student). If 50 go over to the Catholic school, they have $25K (- $10K = $15K: $300/student) — that’s a major reason why public schools are broke.

    ISSUE 3: Private schools “creaming off” top students is a matter of opinion, not fact.

    Well okay, but you’re talking to a person who lives within the notorious Kansas City School District — quite literally, we’re the case study for “how not to do it.” Virtually every parent I know either puts their kids in parochial school or moves to another district when their kids reach school-age. Parochial schools actively recruit black athletes and academics, otherwise the parochial schools are almost entirely non-black and middle-class or better. KCSD schools are almost entirely comprised of poor non-whites of unspectacular achievement. The district is actually more segregated today than it was when the desegregation plan was put in place. Even the guiltiest white liberal Democrat I know won’t put her kid in the public elementary. This year the KCSD closed half its buildings. It’s in a complete death spiral. Did the parochial schools cause the destruction of the district? No, but they accellerated the death spiral.

  • Jaroslaw

    Crusty –

    ISSUE 1 – my response – (a) if an educated populace is a public good, why are not privately educated students also a public benefit? (b) to the extent public funds are issued to parochial schools, in the form of books, interpreters for the deaf etc. you MIGHT make a case they are being subsidized. But if the same parochial student goes to public school tomorrow, I fail to see how your pocket is being picked. The government money for the interpreter, the books etc. is being spent either way. (c) Are you paying for the parochial school building? The teachers? The gas bill? NO, the parents who sent their students are AND they are still paying taxes for the public school which they are not using.

    ISSUE 2 – in our state, the only schools which get state aid are out of formula districts (ie poor school districts) which may be why you are not getting what I’m saying about parochial parents paying for public schools they aren’t using. In a rich city such as Birmingham, Michigan, the public schools spend 10K per student, receive no state aid, as their money comes from the property taxes assessed solely in their district. An average tax bill for an average home might be 3 to 4 thousand most of which goes to the school district. The homeowner parent pays it AND tuition for the private school on top of that.

    ISSUE 3 – Creaming (I like the sound of that) Obviously every city has their own story but the Catholic schools here have existed for decades and parents who use them have never sent their kids to public school. NOW, if you’re talking about Charter schools which a parent can choose, (that get government money, and that money follows the student) THAT has caused the death of many neighborhood public schools, at least here in Michigan. And oddly Charter Schools do not overall have any better test scores, so I’m not sure what the advantage is.

Comments are closed.