Branstad on gay marriage

Last night I put up phase one of my Wednesday afternoon interview with former Governor Terry Branstad.  Now, here’s phase two, a focus on what Branstad had to say on the subject of same-sex marriage.

On November 7, Branstad said in a speech at a GOP fundraiser that the legislature should let the people of Iowa vote on an amendment to the state constitution which would ban gay marrriage here. Branstad, as you may know, also issued a written statement through his campaign spokesman this week, saying he favors “traditional” marriage.  Branstad will be asked about this issue on the campaign trail, as rival Bob Vander Plaats has said the 2010 election should be a referendum on gay marriage and Vander Plaats has promised that, if elected, he would issue an executive order to try to override the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage.  So I asked Branstad, specifically:  what are your views on gay marriage and what does he think is the appropriate response to the court decision?

“Well, first of all, I signed the law which established marriage as a contract between one man and one woman,” Branstad said. “That’s what I think it should be.  I think the court’s decision was wrong. I think the people should have an opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment to override that court decision and 31 states have had that opportunity and every one of them — from Maine to California — has passed it…The legislature needs to authorize it and the citizens should have an opportunity to vote on it.  I feel very strongly that the people should have a chance to vote on it.”

Next, we had a discussion about former Lieutenant Governor Joy Corning (Branstad’s running mate in 1990 and 1994) and her “robocall” in support of same-sex marriage as well as a general discussion about the Republican Party and its view on gay marriage.

“First of all, you know, I’ve been around when I was considered to be the right-wing fringe I guess when I started out in politics and now I have people telling me I’m not conservative enough.  But the truth of the matter is I don’t think I’ve really changed that much.  I still have the same, basic, fundamental values and beliefs that I’ve always had. I’ve always been a conservative.  I’m proud to be a conservative. I became a Republican because I was a conservative.  I haven’t changed my viewpoint on that, but I think I’m also a realist and I try to work with everybody and I try to respect other people’s poitns of view even if they don’t agree with me 100 percent of the time.”

“…It’s the only way you can accomplish things.  I mean, I was governor for 16 years.  Ten years the Democrats controlled the legislature.  You can’t get anything accomplished if you can’t get a majority to pass things and people are not interested in a governor that only wants confrontation.  They want a governor that’s going to accomplish things and resolve problems and some people maybe don’t understand that but I’ve lived it and I know that that you’ve got to do that sometimes and I understand some people that are new to politics maybe just don’t understand that, but, I mean, I’ll do my best to try to convince people and to try to make people understand that realities of what needs to happen, but you can still fight for what you believe in and I believe in that (traditional marriage).

“But I also believe that somebody that — let’s take (former Democratic State Representative) John Connors.  John Connors and I were good friends.  We disagreed, strongly, on labor issues, but on education issues, on osteopathic medical education we were in total agreement.  We both were strong believers in it.  In fact, John Connors, before he died, had been the chair of the foundation from Des Moines General Hospital and made a $100,000 contribution of the funds that were left over from their foundation to Des Moines University, and so I guess what I’m saying is that just because somebody is your adversary on one issue, they may be your best ally on the next.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


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