October 27, 2010
By Arisha Michelle Hatch
Enjoy these lowlights from the heartland…
As the weather gets colder, it seems as if each “Judge Bus” whistle stop gets a little bit shorter. Yesterday in Carroll, we stayed 15 minutes after NOM’s Judge Bus left to interview NOM supporters causing us to miss the apparently brief stop in Fort Dodge where Rick Santorum spoke to a small gathering.
After a two-hour drive to Mason City, the Judge Bus arrived 10 minutes late to its scheduled stop at Central Park and stayed on the ground for approximately eight minutes before repacking the sound-equipment and getting back in the bus. I’m not even sure that they turned off their engine.
Connie Mackey, a Judge Bus regular and President of FRC Action –- a project of the Family Research Council — quickly introduced Iowa State Senator Merlin Bartz, who spoke briefly to the crowd about the Iowa court’s “infringement of civil liberties” leading the audience to repeat the phrase “justice delayed is justice denied” several times throughout the speech. It does not appear that anyone picked up on the irony of the statement despite Bartz’s repetitiveness.
A crowd of 45 NOM supporters, various media outlets and a small group of silent counter-protestors stood waiting in the cold for the brief encounter. Two small billboards boasting the equation of “ring = man plus woman” lined the streets in an apparent attempt to introduce some form of New Math, which obviously doesn’t hold up under algebraic scrutiny. By this failed logic, ring minus man equals woman, but I digress.
There was no sign of Rick Santorum -– who joined the tour for an earlier stop in Fort Dodge -– or Steve King. Four NOM supporters who were expecting Santorum and King’s presence approached tour organizers at the conclusion of the event to find out why the two were not there and were told that they had other engagements and that they would be a various whistle stops throughout the week, but not all of them.
Approximately 47 equality supporters organized by One Iowa and the Homegrown Justice Tour held a counter-rally 30 minutes after the event in the lobby of a mall across the street, urging Iowans to vote “yes, yes, yes” to retain the three justices.
We’re not quite sure why the Judge Bus tour was in such a rush at its final stop of the day in Mason City, we can only speculate but it appears that with Brown no longer present, discipline has gone out the roof. We all know what mice do when the cat’s away.
In Waterloo, local police prohibited Judge Bus organizers from setting up their sound system after they failed to secure a permit; and they certainly needed it because a large contingent of vocal equality supporters were there to meet them.
Fifty-seven equality supporters of the Homegrown Justice tour held a counter-rally arrived early — holding handmade signs and waving rainbow flags — to confront the out-of-state Judge Bus tour, outnumbering the 23 attendees who came to support NOM and its allies. Here are the equality supporters and their colorful signs:
Congressman Steve King and Connie Mackie from the Family Research Council addressed the crowd with their usual talking points.
In Marshalltown, the Judge Bus only had the wind to contend with as King, Bob Vander Plaats (failed Iowa gubernatorial candidate) and one other local state representative addressed a crowd of 36.
Judge Bus spokespeople have taken to using a quote from the Iowa court decision referring to “unimagined rights.” So I asked Vander Plaats about this point — about how as a black woman I should feel about rights unimagined by the founders.
I know, I know — that was an unfair question.
Tomorrow morning, look out for Part 2 from Dubuque and Clinton…