Culver’s new statement on gay marriage

Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, has issued a second statement on the Iowa Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage.  His first statement was issued Friday.  Read today's statement below.


DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver today issued the following statement after reviewing the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision in Varnum v. Brien:

“I have carefully reviewed the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous decision on civil marriage and discussed it with the Attorney General.

“Let me begin by saying that I recognize that the issue of same-gender civil marriage is one that evokes strongly held beliefs and strong emotions both for and against. These beliefs and feelings need to be respected. I hope that the views of those on all sides will be treated respectfully and will not be subjected to name-calling or fear-mongering, but instead will lead to rational discussion.

“At the outset, I want to emphasize that the question before the Iowa Supreme Court was one of civil marriage only – a state-recognized legal status constituting a civil contract. Civil marriage always has been, and will continue to be, separate from religious marriage that takes place in churches and places of worship.

“As I have stated before, I personally believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. This is a tenet of my personal faith. The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision has, in fact, reaffirmed that churches across Iowa will continue to have the right to recognize the sanctity of religious marriage in accordance with their own traditions and church doctrines. The Supreme Court’s decision does not require that churches recognize marriages between persons of the same gender or officiate over such unions. The Court does not have, nor should any court ever have, that kind of power over our religious lives. Our churches and places of worship are free to decide for themselves, as they were before, who may enter the sacred covenant of marriage. As the Supreme Court’s decision states, ‘The sanctity of all religious marriages celebrated in the future will have the same meaning as those celebrated in the past.’

“Yet, the Supreme Court of Iowa, in a unanimous decision, has clearly stated that the Constitution of our state, which guarantees equal protection of the law to all Iowans, requires the State of Iowa to recognize the civil marriage contract of two people of the same gender. The Court also concluded that the denial of this right constitutes discrimination. Therefore, after careful consideration and a thorough reading of the Court’s decision, I am reluctant to support amending the Iowa Constitution to add a provision that our Supreme Court has said is unlawful and discriminatory.

“As Governor, I must respect the authority of the Iowa Supreme Court, and have a duty to uphold the Constitution of the State of Iowa. I also fully respect the right of all Iowans to live under the full protection of Iowa’s Constitution.

“I urge Iowans who hold beliefs on all sides of this issue to exhibit respect and good will. Our state faces many serious challenges. We are in the midst of a serious economic recession. Tens of thousands of our fellow Iowans are without work. We have suffered the worst natural disasters and most difficult recovery our state has ever faced. We must join together and redouble our efforts to work toward solutions that will help Iowans in this time of uncertainty. That is where, I believe, my focus and energies should lie.

“Let us not lose sight of the fact that we are all Iowans, all neighbors, united in the promise and faith of a brighter future for our state. Let us all work together toward that common goal.”

UPDATE at 5:20 p.m.:  The top Republican in the Iowa Senate issued a statement.

DES MOINES, IA – Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) issued the following statement today in response to Governor Culver’s failure to keep his promise to protect traditional marriage in Iowa:

“Governor Culver has failed to keep the promise he made just last year on January 18 after a filming of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” to ‘do whatever it takes to protect marriage as between one man and one woman’. He has failed to lead in creating a responsible budget during the last two years, he has failed to keep spending under control and he has failed to push legislation that will help get over 80,000 Iowans back to work and now he has failed to keep his promise to ‘do whatever it takes to protect marriage as between one man and one woman.’ I believe Iowans should have the final vote on this very important and emotional issue. Governor Culver has chosen to stand with 7 elite justices and deny the 3 million people of Iowa the right to vote on this significant issue. This marriage flip-flop is just the latest example of Governor Culver not providing the leadership that every Iowan deserves.”

Earlier today, a likely 2010 Republican candidate for governor took a swipe at Culver on this issue.

UPDATE II:  A leading opponent of gay marriage issued a statement via email at 8:03 p.m. Read it below.

Iowa Family Policy Center ACTION President, Chuck Hurley, responded this afternoon to Governor Culver’s statement on same-sex “marriage.”  Upon reading the statement, Hurley said, “Governor Culver has directly violated his promise to Iowans to defend marriage.”  The Governor was quoted on January 18, 2008 as saying he would, “do whatever it takes to protect marriage between one man and one woman.”  Hurley challenged the Governor by saying, “If he were a man of his word, he would issue a stay until the people of Iowa have a chance to vote on the Iowa Marriage Amendment.”

Referencing the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution, Hurley called on the Legislature and the Governor to exercise their rightful roles as the “check” and “balance” on the state Supreme Court.  “As the Executive in this state, Governor Culver could still exercise his right to stay the Court’s opinion,” Hurley said. “Instead of competing to see who can undermine marriage more, the Governor and the members of the Iowa Legislature ought to be looking for ways to restore the only true definition of marriage, one man and one woman, in Iowa law.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. James C Knapp says

    Governor Culver, You say that gay marriage goes against a tenet of your personal faith. Are you ashamed to own your Saviour? Would you give up all of your moral responsibility to satisfy the wishes of people committed to live in sin? Would you deny the people of Iowa to be represented by their governor? The Democratic party is moving so far left that America which was once a Republic will become a Socialist country run by agnostics and atheists. Would you prefer that? Stand up for the tennets of your religion and that of a majority if the Judeo – Christian traditions that brought people out to fill sandbags, clean up Parkersburg and feed thousands of people in dire need. Do not let them down. Give the gays their civil rights but do not, I repeat DO NOT GIVE IN TO THE WIMPERING MASS OF DEMOCRATS THAT CARE LESS ABOUT THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE AND HUMAN LIFE. The ball is in your court stand up for God.

  2. James C Knapp says

    You say that the Supreme Court cannot require churchs to do anything. There is a seperation of Church and State in this country for good reason. The Supreme Court is only to assure that the other branches of the government do not violate the laws put in place to protect and serve the people of the state. Please take time to think. I know this is unlike other Democrats at the National level but we in Iowa lead the nation in literacy and we got that way by attending good schools and good churches. Not gay bars that pervade places like San Fransisco and Iowa City. Give all our citizens their rights granted under the Constitution but do not quaiver in your duty to God and Country. You know the tenets of your faith and they require you to act accordingly. If not then we elected the wrong man.

  3. Leave it to Vermont and Iowa to be the most progressive states in the nation, shame on us here in California for passing Prop 9. Whether you call it Gay Marriage or Civil Union, the basic premise is that every person should have equal rights. It’s good to see that some states are progressing, I made a list on my site of the states I think will legalize Gay Marriage first:

  4. Shirley Dickinson says

    I think the law is fine we have too many anyway. We will keep more people in Iowa and it is fine with me if they want to marry. I am not gay myself, but I don’t throw stones. Leave these couples alone.
    Find something else to do, who are you to judge? Shirley

  5. FamilyFirst says

    Too bad for Governor Chet Culver, he has sold out the good people of Iowa, for the money and support of wealthy out of state homosexual activists. Homosexual activists will not be satisfied with a separation of civil and religious marriage. Now they’ll want to reeducate our school children to think marriage is any two adults. Now, they will attempt to force religious groups and civil groups to accept their view of same sex marriage with regard to hiring, social service activities like adoption, counseling, youth programs. They will use the force of law to label everyone as bigots, who doesn’t share their twisted view of society. Good families will find it harder to teach their children the time proven values of the importance of marriage, that it is more than a romantic relation between any two people, that it is the foundation of family and consequently the foundation of a functional society. Too bad Governor Chet Colver sees the support of the gay activists to be more important the people of Iowa.

  6. Concerned Reader says

    Homosexuals are approximately 3% of the population. Their only hope to gain political support is to divide and confuse the other 97% along religious lines, as the governor did when he distinguished between religious marriage and civil marriage.
    Remember that the law is the “Great Teacher”, and it sets the standard that guides society. The schools, civil groups and local governments and ultimately the churches must conform to the law or be politicized as illegal bigots.
    THIS IS NOT A RELIGIOUS vers. OTHERS issue! It is a question of what is best for the people and children of Iowa.
    It is unusual for homosexual couples to have children. In fact they cannot, unless someone donates a child or genetic material. It is normal for a married man woman to have children and family. Why should homosexuals expect special treatment above any other one, two or more persons who are not married and depend on each other? Many examples exist! And what is special about two? Is it because a man and a woman make two?

  7. Oskar Frisch says

    If Republicans and the religious right are truly concerned with ‘protecting the sanctity of marriage’ then they should gather together in the halls of the legislature and fast track legislation making divorce a felony punishable by fines and imprisonment. After they are fined and imprisoned then their children must be stripped away because anyone willing to ‘degrade the sanctity of marriage’ through an ungodly act such as divorce clearly lack the moral authority to raise good Christian children.

  8. Jordan Statz says

    I have to ask…
    Since when does anyone have the authority to put words in gods mouth? I thought christianity was about loving thy neighbor, and doing onto others as you would have done onto you?
    Apparently that is not the case.
    I can’t think of anything more un-christian than calling someone else immoral and not allowing them the same rights granted to myself.
    Furthermore – I thought marriage was more or less about the love between two people and the desire for a commitment of that love.
    and besides,
    If you don’t like/agree with gay marriage… then please don’t get one.