Filed under: NOM Tour Tracker-Iowa
The ardently non-partisan web site Factcheck.org reviews the Iowa TV ad by the National Organization for Marriage and has this to say:
In Iowa, the only issue anyone talks about in connection with the three justices facing retention votes is the court’s 2009 ruling in the case Varnum v. Brien making Iowa the third state in the U.S. to allow same-sex marriage. (Currently five states and Washington, D.C., issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples.) Opposition has been heated, and anti-gay marriage groups are out for the justices’ scalps.
Narrator: Activist judges on Iowa’s Supreme Court have become political, ignoring the will of voters, and imposing same-sex marriage on Iowa. Liberal, out-of-control judges ignoring our traditional values and legislating from the bench, imposing their own values on Iowa. If they can usurp the will of voters and redefine marriage, what will they do to other long-established Iowa traditions and rights? Three of these judges are now on the November ballot. Send them a message. Vote no on retention of Supreme Court Justices.
This ad is rooted mostly in opinion, and everyone is entitled to that. If Iowa for Freedom and the National Organization for Marriage believe that the state’s justices have “become political” and are “liberal” and “out-of-control,” we’re not going to argue. We can, however, point out a few facts and provide some context.
For one thing, the court decision was unanimous. That means that it included the two justices who were appointed by a Republican governor, Terry Branstad – who, by the way, signed the law that was overturned by this decision and has criticized the court’s action. One of those two justices, Mark Cady, was the author of the opinion. The other, Marsha Ternus, is one of the three justices — the others are David Baker and Michael Streit — who are up for a retention vote.
Second, like it or not, “ignoring the will of voters” is exactly what justices are called on to do. They are meant to base their decisions on the facts and the law, most important, the state constitution. Furthermore, the “will of the voters” is not entirely clear; most polls, such as one conducted for Des Moines television station KCCI last February, have found Iowans closely divided (this one asked respondents whether they’d favor a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage). Several months before that, a poll for the Des Moines Register found similar results. It also found that well under half of those polled said they disapproved of the court’s decision:
Des Moines Register, Sept. 21, 2009: The poll shows that 26 percent of Iowans favor April’s unanimous court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, 43 percent oppose it and 31 percent don’t care much or are not sure.
Finally, the ad says that the justices were “legislating from the bench” and “imposing their own values” when they issued the decision. Those are clearly opinions. But we would point out that the court ruled that the legislature had violated the state constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. Here’s part of what Cady wrote about that:
Varnum v. Brien, April 3, 2009: We are firmly convinced that the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification. …
This approach does not disrespect or denigrate the religious views of many Iowans who may strongly believe in marriage as a dual-gender union, but considers, as we must, only the constitutional rights of all people, as expressed by the promise of equal protection for all.
By Arisha Michelle Hatch
The fear and loathing on the NOM “Judge Bus” Tour has finally come to an end. Well, the tour ended, but not the fear and loathing, of course.
In Davenport, the Judge Bus pulled into Lafayette Park. Steve King and Tony Perkins addressed the audience of 24, several of whom waved checkered flags to signify the last leg of the tour. Twenty-seven equality supporters waved handmade signs, chanted and sang throughout the program before attending their own rally.
“There wasn’t many of us here, but God was here…and [we were] also in the innumerable company of angels who we cannot see physically,” said one NOM supporter from Illinois.
Next, the Judge Bus pulled into a parking lot just outside of the Port of Burlington Visitor Center and was greeted by it’s largest crowd of the tour, a group of 72 attendees listened to King and Perkins make their usual comments.
At the end of the rally, a local unidentified man was given the microphone and felt compelled to point out the NOM Tour Trackers to the crowd and warned attendees from speaking to us. He kept referring to us as “Wonk Room,” our friends at Think Progress, but we appreciated the gesture nonetheless.
Their largest rally was followed by their smallest.
Chuck Hurley, Steve King, Bob Vander Plaats and Tony Perkins met 4 people (and a rather large dog) in a park in Ottumwa.
In Pella, at the next whistlestop, we spoke to a teenager who was one of 23 attendees agreed to go on camera to give us the youth perspective. She too was deeply concerned about activist judges, but was unable to name a single decision other than the same-sex marriage decision that she disagreed with.
For the final stop of the tour, the Judge Bus returned to the city it started in Des Moines, hosting a rally in front of the Iowa Supreme Court.
Sixty-five NOM supporters joined Vander Plaats, Perkins and Tamara Scott from Concerned Women for America.
Perkins again focused on unimagined rights language from the decision.
“It’s fine to have Goofy and Dumbo at Disneyland, but not on the bench,” he said to applause.
Scott then offered one of my favorite moments from the tour. She was leading the crowd through a call and response exercise in which she’d ask a question to which the audience was supposed to respond “No.”
“Are you anti like the media makes you out to be?”
“No,” the audience screamed with zero sense of irony.
It was the only time I laughed out loud during the speeches. I don’t know, maybe you had to be there.
As a final cherry on top of this tour, check out this Judge Bus compilation of interviews, featuring the always entertaining Bob Vander Plaats at the beginning — and a shout-out to all of us at “
Wonk Room,” er, Courage’s NOM Tour Tracker:
Cross posted at NOM Exposed
In Council Bluffs, we had the privilege of speaking with Reva and Ingrid Evans Olson–whom you might remember were plaintiffs in Iowa’s marriage lawsuit that paved the way for marriage equality in Iowa.
During our chat, Ingrid didn’t mince words when asked her views of the National Organization for Marriage. They should just “go home.”
A second couple Mike Howell and Hersh Rodasky–together for 29 years and married in Iowa–agreed. “These people from out of state need to leave us alone.”