August 1, 2010
“Is this heaven?”
“No, it’s Iowa.”
-Field of Dreams
By Adam Bink
Today, we’re coming to you from Des Moines, Iowa, after a weekend drive from Rochester, MN, where NOM experienced it’s second parking lot #NOMTurnoutFAIL (the first was in Lima, Ohio). Iowa is the first state we’ve encountered since New Hampshire several weeks ago where same-sex couples have the freedom to marry (and the second on the tour so far).
To set the stage a bit here, since the unanimous Iowa Supreme Court decision last year ruling that excluding same-sex couples from the freedom to marry is unconstitutional, the issue has largely faded as a controversy. Leaders of each body of the state legislature have declined to challenge it, and the neither body has plans to enact legislation putting an amendment to the vote of the people (such a vote would require approval of the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions). The former dean of Iowa political press corps (now with Paul Simon Public Policy Institute), David Yepsen, told the New York Times in June that the issue had faded from the scene: “Too many other things are upsetting people,” he noted, calling this year’s elections a referendum on Gov. Culver’s administration. In the same piece, even the head of the Iowa Family Policy Center noted that efforts to remove the Supreme Court justices had “gained little steam”. A June poll by local CBS affiliate KCCI found that a majority (53%) of Iowans support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. And well over 2,000 same-sex couples have legally married in the state. Despite this and the sky appearing to not have fallen, NOM has come to convince folks that it has and/or will.
We’ll have more from today’s events as it comes.
UPDATE BY ARISHA (12:44 PST): A golden-roofed Iowa State Capitol is the setting for today’s NOM “Summer for Marriage” stop.
86 NOM supporters are scattered under various shade trees when Brian Brown alerted the crowd that they’d be moving the podium from the top of the statehouse steps to an area closer to the crowd.
“We don’t want anyone to get heatstroke,” Brown said. “We’ll move to you.”
7 (updated: 43) equality activists are gathered to the side of the rally. However, we’re told that One Iowa will be holding a separate counter-rally today from 3-4 pm local time in Des Moines.
The local NBC affiliate is present. Brown is currently surrounded by reporters. More to come as the rally proceeds.
UPDATE BY ARISHA (12:55 PST): The focus of today’s NOM rally is on the “secretive” and “backdoor” tactics used by equality activists to pass marriage in Iowa.
“Here in Iowa, you’re being told that you don’t have the right to vote, Brown said. “It’s really a very simple concept, if you want to change something so fundamental . . . At the very least, let the people have their say at the ballot box.”
Danny Carroll, a former Iowa elected official- now Chairman of the Iowa Family Policy Center- addressed the crowd.
“We had a major shift in policy on marriage and you were told [nothing],” Carroll said. “Well, all political power is reserved for the people.”
Tamara Scott, Iowa State Director of Concerned Women for America, took a religious tack.
“Today I’m going to talk to you as a private citizen . . . a concerned mother . . . a taxpayer,” Scott began. “I’d rather be hated [by man] than be a stench in the nostrils of God Almighty.”
“I don’t want the village raising my child,” Scott continued. “It doesn’t take a village, it takes a family.”
Two interesting side notes on Scott’s speech:
1) Scott is responsible for making what must be the most convoluted marriage equality analogy to date, comparing NOM supporters to those who warned their Toyota-owning friends about the recall.
2) Scott acknowledged the Tea Party. “It’s time to put your pinky down, put down the teacup and have an energy drink.”
Brown ended the rally with a chant of “let us vote.”
As corrected above, a total of 43 equality supporters had gathered by the conclusion of the rally, many sporting such positive messages as this from supporter Amanda Eastin:
UPDATE BY ARISHA (2:09 PST): With Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered playing in the background, 298 equality activists and their families attended a short rally hosted by One Iowa, 2 miles down the road and an hour after NOM completed its Des Moines tour stop at the State Capitol. An incredible turnout dwarfing the pro-NOM rally.
The rally was filled with blue balloons, rainbow flags and One Iowa “Stand Proud” signs.
In unison, the crowd responds with a powerful chant of “stand proud,” in response to the speaker’s call.
Later this afternoon, I’ll have an extensive interview with Brian Brown in which I give him the David Blakehorn treatment. Blakenhorn was the Prop 8 defense expert who was questioned on the stand about the positive consequences of same-sex marriage- and faltered greatly. You’ll see what I mean later. Stay tuned.
UPDATE BY ADAM (2:31 PST): More photos rolling in from the One Iowa rally:
Jen Harvey and Chris Harper Patterson with their child