unhelpful distractions

Is Iowa’s Incoming Gov. Terry Branstad Going to Cave To A Conservative Push to Ban Gay Marriage?

Back when Iowa’s Governor-elect Terry Branstad was campaigning, he told the Cedar Rapids Gazette that he supported civil unions for gays — a remark that came only after he denounced same-sex marriage as what caused the ruin of “ancient societies,” and argued only children raised by a father and a mother truly do well in life. And so, while saying he was fine “with people that want to live together and raise a child and things like that,” he declared he did not want the state to hold a constitutional convention to overturn the State Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. Too bad: Conservatives are going to push him to do it.

With all the energy radiating from the successful campaign to oust the three Supreme Court justices who joined the court last year in unanimously approving gay marriage, conservatives are keen to push elected Republican officlas to mount an effort to reverse the court’s decision, relays the Iowa Independent. Which would put Branstad — who is already Iowa’s longest serving governor having held the post for 16 years beignning in 1983 –in a tough spot, given his former support for the high court’s processes.

But with social conservatives energized by the ouster of the three Iowa Supreme Court justices over the 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, and new demands that Republicans push hard to overturn the decision, Branstad’s resolve to focus on economic concerns could very well be tested. Even on the subject of judicial retention, Branstad has remained coy. The governor-elect repeatedly refused to comment on the retention vote, and when asked specifically about it would say decisions about the 74 judges on the November ballot should be left to individuals. Even after his victory, Branstad continued his “no comment” policy in regards to the judges’ ouster.

“I think selective silence on retention speaks volumes. It’s essentially a wink and a nod to the Bob Vander Plaats wing of his party that he’s not going to interfere with its assault on the courts. After all, Vander Plaats’ decision to go justice-hunting kept him from running as an independent for governor,” Gazette columnist Todd Dorman wrote before the election. “Branstad flatly denies his silent treatment is tacit support for Vander Plaats’ push. But unless he takes a stand, we’ll never know for sure what he thinks.” Dorman concluded that Branstad’s experience “must tell him that ousting these justices would set a damaging precedent,” and he should have spoken out about it.

[…] Shortly after the court’s gay marriage ruling, Branstad voiced support for the judicial process, telling the Des Moines Register that he may not agree with the decision but “I do respect the existence of the separation of powers.” So Branstad’s silence on the issue was nothing more than pandering, said Arthur Breur, editor of the LGBT newspaper ACCESSline Iowa.

And what about Branstad’s attempt to use his first new gubernatorial term in more than a decade to do something besides fight to ban gay marriage?

Branstad told The Des Moines Register this summer that if the GOP took back the House, which it did on Tuesday, that there would be sufficient political pressure to force a vote on a marriage amendment. But even then, the campaign stressed jobs and the economy more than opposition to same-sex marriage.

As if Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal needed more bullshit to deal with.

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  • Wonka

    Bye bye Iowa

  • Dan

    All these violations of human rights in the USA brings up an interesting question:

    So how many Americans are living in a country that violates the human rights of themselves or their family members?

    Let’s see 300 million Americans total. GLBTs are at least 3%-10% of the population. That’s 10 million to 30 million GLBTs, which means that’s then also 20 million to 60 million parents of GLBTs so total 30 million to 90 million Americans impacted by human rights violations.

    If the average American family has 2.5 kids, then the average GLBT kid growing up has 1.5 siblings – that’s another 15 million to 45 million siblings – so total Americans impacted by human rights violations to their family stands at 45 million to 135 millions, and that’s not including other relatives such as aunts, uncles, offsprings, etc. who are millions more family members impacted.

    So the politicians who make up the government of the United States are violating the human rights of a minimum of 45 million to 135 million Americans and harming the family of a massive number of straight people. GLBT people are the family of straight people, after all.

    Something is really wrong when politicians in America are doing that to that many Americans. It does not seem like it is going to end well when you look at it by the sheer number of Americans being harmed. That is at least 15 times to 45 times the size of all law enforcement and military personnel in the USA combined.

  • tjr101

    @Dan: If so many people are affected by the human rights violations by these politicians then why are these very same people electing these politicians? Thats a more pertinent question.

  • Dan

    Most people experiencing human rights violations disengage from the politicial process because they realize that a government that violates the human rights of so many people is, by definition, corrupt. That’s what happens when diplomacy fails to end human rights violations. As an example, look at how many people disengaged from politics just before the U.S. Civil War (or the civil war in any country), or before the Holocaust, or during any dictatorship (like Franco in Spain), or in authoritarian places like China with only one political party, and so forth. It is the reason the rule of law ultimately fails rather than survives under any government that mass violates human rights.

  • Kyle

    It doesn’t matter what he thinks or does in relation to gay marriage. He cannot change anything. We must think long-term (in how it will change with the two passes of legislature and then public vote–nothing more, nothing less).

  • Jeffree

    Can the current governor replace the three ousted judges before handing over the reins? Anyone know?–I have read conflicting reports.

    BTW: over at NOM’s blog they’re seeing this election as a huge victory that will dissuade judges in other states from taking similar positions as the Iowa judges did.

    So much for judicial independence, eh?


  • Dan

    Judges in Iowa are selected by a commission and then the governoer chooses from their recommendations. All judges are members of the Iowa Bar Association, which actively opposed having the judges removed. The net result is that the replacements will be just as qualified to be judges and to uphold the constitution as the three who were removed (which makes their removal all the more idiotic). In the parts of Iowa which actually heard the reason to keep the judges, those regions actually voted in favor of keeping the judges, which means a better funded campaign in the future to educate Iowans about judicial independence as a requirement of democracy would be successful. NOM simply spent more money this time around, which doesn’t mean their argument would succeed if matched dollar for dollar (they outspent the pro-retention campaign 5-to-1). And since only a percentage of Iowa voters went to the polls at the mid-term, it also doesn’t mean that Iowa voters in general don’t get the bigger picture. It is also important to note that 45% of voters in the mid-term election understood the importance of judicial impartiality and independence (and that their own rights – the rights of all Iowans – depend on it, else the constitution just becomes a majority-only instrument and worthless in a constitutional republic that claims the right to hold a minority position in any range of spheres of life – religion, race, sexual orientation, political affiliation, and so forth).

  • adam

    not very well-written. He can’t call for a constitutional convention, that’s only an option every decade, and we voted it down by a huge majority this year.

    The executive office has nil to do with constitutional amendments.

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