Gay marriage the topic of Iowa Press

The guests on this weekend’s edition of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television represent the two sides in the debate over gay marriage in our state. Danny Carroll, a former state legislator from Grinnell, is chairman of the Iowa Family Policy Center’s board of directors.  Brad Clark is campaign manager for “One Iowa.”  IPTV has already posted the video online.

Both men said their respective groups would NOT get involved in the judicial retention elections this November.  (Three of the Supreme Court justices who voted in Varnum v Brien are up for a retention vote in the General Election.)  And both men said it would be a bad idea for Iowans to vote to hold a constitutional convention.

I asked both men to talk about the world view of most Iowans, the accepted social mores here.  “What do you think the general Iowa view is in regards to gay marriage?”

“They oppose it,” Carroll said, to begin his answer. “They know that it is contrary to the word of God.  They know that it is contrary and flies in the face of over 200 years of history in our country, almost that long in the state of Iowa — well over 100 years in Iowa — and they just can’t believe it.  They feel like their government has let them down.

“The comment that I hear most often:  ‘I just can’t believe it.  I didn’t think this would happen.’  And they’re not the kind of people — you know Iowans as well as I do — they’re not the kind of people who go looking for a fight.  They’re not (out) to put down anybody.  They’re not to in any way to disparage the contribution anybody makes to…a community, but you are not going to rewrite the laws on marriage, contrary to Biblical standards and teaching and the word of God and do so behind closed doors by people who are not elected and not give the people a chance to be heard. At least let them vote. 

“Mike, your (earlier) question to Brad is right to the point. No, he does not want it to go to a vote of the people because he’s pretty sure they’ll lose.  They don’t believe in the cause enough to take it in the court of public debate.”

Clark then responded to the same question, what is the average person’s view of gay marriage?

“I think the Supreme Court when they wrote their decision and as, you know, Governor Culver and many other folks have said since, they really defined the difference between religious and civil marriage and as we begin to talk to Iowans about that, there is a very big difference between religious and civil marriage.  This isn’t going to change any house of worship or church’s ability to pick and choose whom they’re going to marry.  What this does do is allow the government to give civil marriage licenses and the rights and  protections that come with it to (same-sex) couples.”

Mike Glover of the Associated Press jumped in with a question about demographics.  “I assume societal attitudes toward this issue change over time.  Describe that.  Where are we in that continum?”

Clark answered: “I think an ABC nationwide poll came out today that shows more and more folks are seeing this as a civil rights issue…and there’s a generational gap there…You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone my age or folks older than me that don’t know someone who is gay or lesbian and they think that their friends and their neighbors should have the same rights and the same abilities that they have.”

Glover posed the same question to Carroll.

Carroll answered: “Where are we on this continum?  Hard to say, but we know where we’ve been.  We have watched society continue to make compromise after compromise.  I’m a good deal older than Brad and he’s a classmate of my daughters, so.”

Dean Borg, the moderator of Iowa Press, jumped in.  “Let me put it this way: is time working against you?”

“I don’t know Dean.  It’s hard to have a view of history, but we’ve compromised on prayer in school in the ’60s. We’ve compromised on life in the womb in the 1970s. We started compromising on gambling in the 1980s to where we now have 20-some casinos and now we’re starting to compromise on marriage.  Conservative Christian people in the state of Iowa are saying ‘Enough is enough. How far do we keep going down this road. making compromise after compromise, only to wake up years down the road to see the consequences of those compromises?”

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About O.Kay Henderson

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