New group formed to have “conversation about marriage equality” (AUDIO)

Jeff Angelo

Jeff Angelo, a former state senator, has formed a new group he’s calling “Iowa Republicans for Freedom” with the goal of sparking an internal party debate about “marriage equality.”

He’d like to get organized to the point that Republicans attending the Iowa Caucuses early next year propose planks to the party platform which support the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry in a civil ceremony.  Angelo says his thinking on this issue has evolved (during his 12-year tenure in the state senate he supported efforts to ban same-sex marriage in Iowa).  Now, he wants to “influence my party from the inside” to rethink its position on the issue.

AUDIO: news conference on the statehouse ground. 28 min

Angelo was asked about the group’s name — Iowa Republicans for Freedom — and its similarity to Iowa for Freedom, the group headed by anti-gay marriage activists who successfully campaigned against retaining three Iowa Supreme Court justices who had joined the court’s unanimous 2009 ruling on same-sex marriage.  Angelo says the name of the group is not an attempt to be “clever” or target any individual like Bob Vander Plaats, the three-time GOP candidate for governor who chaired Iowa for Freedom last year.

“The name is simply to reflect that Republicans over the last couple of years have really been talking about individual freedom, party of freedom, limited government and it’s meant to allow people to see that supporting marriage equality is in line with those values,” Angelo said near the end of the half-hour-long news conference.

How many Reps. does it take to pass a resolution?

It apparently takes less than a handful of state representatives to pass a House Resolution, as two resolutions were approved today in the Iowa House — after House leaders said yesterday that there would be no floor action.  Resolutions are generally non-binding documents, although some resolutions do call for action, like a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage or impeachment of four of the justices on the Iowa Supreme Court.

Today’s resolutions passed quickly, as the House convened, prayed, said the Pledge, and passed the two resolutions in the span of four minutes according to the Iowa General Assembly’s website, which says the House convened at 10:12 a.m. and adjourned at 10:16 a.m.

At the national level, House Speaker John Boehner has tried to enforce tighter rules so the U.S. House will no longer consider “frivolous” resolutions that are symbolic or congratulatory — especially those commemorating athletic exploits — like Congratulations to the World Champion (fill in the blank)!  Boehner has even been reluctant to pass a resolution honoring the Navy Seals & the intelligence community for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The Iowa House in the past when Democrats were in control had taken steps to avoid passing commemorative or “making a statement” resolutions, too.  Such resolutions generally must have been bipartisan and either statewide or national in scope, but there’s no mention in House rules of any limitations on resolution topics this year under Republican control.  This year the House has honored bacon, among other things, along with some athletic exploits.  The House also marked the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth (in a resolution sponsored by Republicans) and the 100th anniversary of IBM’s founding (in a resolution sponsored by Democrats and Republicans from the Dubuque area where IBM now has a facility).  There’s even been a resolution marking the Wuchang Uprising.  Really.

The most recent House Debate Calendar is for Wednesday, May 4 and there were no resolutions listed on it. Two resolutions were passed this morning. One articulates Texas Congressman and two-time (perhaps three-time) presidential candidate Ron Paul’s call for an audit of the Federal Reserve System.  It was cosponsored by 18 Republicans.  The other resolution, sponsored by just one Republican, calls for a two-year moratorium on enforcement of air quality rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The top Democrat in the Iowa House issued a statement on today’s developments:


“Once again, House Republicans are governing in an extremist fashion.  Because of the budget standoff, all representatives in the Iowa House were sent home this past Wednesday.  However, this morning to a virtually empty House Chamber, Republican Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer brought up and passed a controversial measure calling for a “two year moratorium” on plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curtail efforts to stop polluters.

House Resolutions relay the will of Iowans and are almost always non-partisan, like the resolution honoring WWII veterans.  Since the measure was approved, the Iowa House is also directed to inform Iowa’s congressional delegation about its passage giving the false impression that it had unanimous, bi-partisan support in the Iowa House.  House Democrats will be submitting our own letter to Iowa’s congressional delegation to let them know we did not support this controversial legislation and it should not have been called up for debate in our absence.”

Judge Moore “exploring” presidential bid

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is in the midst of a six-day, 25-city swing through Iowa and he’s filing the paperwork today for an exploratory committee for a presidential campaign.

Moore, who is 64 years old, says his natural base of support will come from the Tea Party, from Christian voters and from voters who want to adhere to constitutional principles.  Moore also expects to win support from Iowans who voted last fall to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who had joined in the court’s unanimous 2009 ruling on gay marriage.  “This is a natural group of people who want to stand for family values, want to stand for something that is so common sense it defies imagination — the marriage of one man and one woman,” Moore said.  “…When judges start making up the law, they should be removed.”

Moore was in Iowa last summer, campaigning against the retention of those three Iowa Supreme Court justices.  He was in Iowa earlier this year, serving as the keynote speaker at a statehouse rally organized by Iowans who want a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage here. 

Moore says losing in the past two statewide elections in Alabama (see info below about those races) has no bearing on his ability to win a national race.  “You don’t run by winning or losing.  You don’t know many politicians that have not lost an election,” Moore said.  “…Abraham Lincoln lost many elections…Ronald Reagan lost the first time he ran…for president….I’ve won elections.  I became the first elected Republican judge in Etowah County in modern history and since then, no other (Republican) judge has been elected…And when I went to chief justice, I won without a run-off in the primary.  Elections are just things that you run and, you know, take what the voters say, but I have had more of a national inclination…I’ve spoken for 15 years across the country and dealing with the Constitution of the United States and dealing with things that pertain to issues of constitutional import and so I think it’s time to bring those issues to light in a national debate.”

Moore opposes the Obama Administration’s move to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the U.S. military and the organization he now leads — The Foundation for Moral Law — filed a brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act. “Having served in the military…I know that homosexuality is not condusive to the military mission and I have no qualms about that.  I’ve seen it and felt it and experienced it and we’ve got to wake up to reality, ” Moore said early in an interview with Radio Iowa (me) and The Des Moines Register this morning. “Common sense dictates this.”

Later, Moore was asked what he meant by having felt and experienced the impact of homosexuality in the military.

“You had mentioned that while you were in the military, you did experience some problems,” Jennifer Jacobs of The Des Moines Register said. “Can you describe that? What do you mean by that?”

Moore replied: “No, no, I didn’t say — I didn’t experience problems.”

“You witnessed some problems in the military?” Jacobs asked.

“With discipline, with homosexuality, with other things, yes –with the views of the military soldiers toward that,” Moore said.

“How their views somehow impeded the readiness of the military, is that what you mean?” Jacobs asked. 

“Well, their acceptance of open homosexuality in the military was not there,” he said.  “…Of course it’s always affected the military. It has affected the military since Washington excluded homosexuals out of the military back during his day.”

Moore is being escorted around the state by former state Representative Danny Carroll, a Republican from Grinnell who is a lobbyist for The Family Leader.  Carroll supported former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the 2008 Caucuses and was co-chair (along with Bob Vander Plaats) of Huckabee ’08 in Iowa.

“What impresses me and a lot of other people that we talk to — you hear a lot of people talk about the courage of their convictions, seldom do you find someone who is willing to sacrifice their position as the sitting chief justice of a state supreme court because he was asked by a higher authority to no longer acknowledge God,” Carroll said. “…He has demonstrated in real life actions the courage of his convictions. That’s impressive.”

In 2001 Moore drew national attention for installing a monument to the Ten Commandments in Alabama’s courthouse. A federal court ordered that monument removed. After Moore refused to do so, Alabama’s judicial ethics panel booted Moore from that state’s high court in 2003.  Moore ran for governor of Alabama in 2006 and lost in the G.O.P. Primary and in 2010 he got about 19 percent of the vote in Alabama’s gubernatorial primary, finishing in fourth place.

AUDIO: Bachmann talks of born again experience, political ideology

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, is today’s guest in The Family Leader’s Presidential Lecture Series.  The venue for her midday appearance is the Vermeer Auditorium at Pella Christian High School.

At 12:48 p.m. Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader took the stage.  Vander Plaats said his group is concerned about fiscal issues, including the national debt. “And the reason is it all impacts the family,” he said.

BVP described Bachman as pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-constitution, pro-economic and he praised Bachmann for voting against the budget deal this past weekend.  Jen Green is next on stage, to introduce Bachmann.  She praised Bachmann for “making all the right enemeis” during her 10-year tenure in congress.

At 12:55 p.m. Bachmann took the stage.  The crowd stood to applaud her entrance.  “Hi, everyone,” Bachmann said.  “…I only wish the tulips were up right now.”  That’s a reference to Pella’s famous tulip festival in May.

AUDIO from speech 43 min

“Some of you may know that I am an Iowan,” Bachmann said, telling the crowd an “Iowegian” is a “Norwegian Iowan.”

“I feel like I know you,” she told the crowd. “I’m one of you.”

She then shared a “background of her faith story.”

She was born into a Lutheran family and while she’s sure the gospel had been preached during her childhood, “I don’t think I heard it; I don’t think I understood it” until she turned 16.

It’s at the age of 16 — on November 1, 1972 — “that I understood I was a sinner…and I needed salvation…At that time I confessed…At that moment, my whole life changed…and I became a new creation…He put his mantle of righteousness on me and it changed my whole world forever,” she said.

Bachmann said the most “distinct feature” of her conversion was “an absolute hunger and a thirst for the word of God…All of a sudden the Holy Spirit was my teacher and I could understand the word of God.”

[Read more…]

Gingrich on “Iowa Press” tonight

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the guest on this weekend’s edition of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television.  It airs at 7:30 tonight and 11:30 a.m. Sunday.  After the show, Gingrich addressed the charge that he’s flip-flopped on Libya.  (P.S. There’s audio there if you follow that link, so you can listen to NG himself.)

During the program, Gingrich presented himself as the candidate of ideas who can best match wits with President Obama in the presidential debates of October, 2012.  (See more about that below) Gingrich suggested he hadn’t been ready to run in ’08 because his idea factory hadn’t churned up enough stuff, but he hinted he’s poised to make a “positive announcement” about his presidential aspirations in four or five weeks.  Gingrich mentioned recent visits to states like South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa — which hold the first contests in the 2012 primary election cycle — “basically testing the waters…and so far the waters are pretty warm.  I feel pretty good about this…I think it’s fair to say that we’re a lot closer to running than not running at this stage.”

Gingrich also addressed the topic of his marital history. 

AP reporter Mike Glover: “You’ve been married three times. You’ve had messy divorces.  You’re campaigning in a state where the Republican Party is dominated by Christian conservatives. How do you get past that?”

Gingrich: “I think you don’t get past that.  I think you tell the truth and I think you share your life’s experiences and you admit that you’ve had weaknesses and that you’ve had failures and you’ve gone to God to seek forgiveness and to seek reconciliation and then people make a decision. And they look at the totality of my life. I’m 67.  Callista and I have a great marriage. We have two wonderful daughters. We have two grandchildren who are terrific and people have to decide, on balance, am I a person that they would respect and trust in the White House.”

Gingrich said you don’t have to be likeable to win the presidency — he cited Nixon as an example– and when questioned about what qualifies one to be president, he cited Lincoln and Eisenhower as examples of successful presidents because they had, in Gingrich’s assessment, core beliefs.

He restated his support of corn-based ethanol fuel toward the end of the show and said there were no strings attached to his six-figure contribution to last fall’s effort to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices in the 2010 judicial retention election.  Gingrich added he would be willing to support an effort to oust the four justices who remain on the court who joined in the unanimous 2009 opinion which legalized gay marriage in Iowa.

At the beginning of the show, Gingrich addressed the idea voters may be looking for a “fresh face” in 2012.  Neat the end, he addressed this:

Radio Iowa news director O. Kay Henderson (me): “Given the propensity of Americans to like to promote a state-leve chief executive — a governor, given the desire of some part in your party to nominate a business person or someone with a business background, is it wise to nominate a former professor who ‘s an author to run against a former professor who’s an author?”

Gingrich: “Well, it depends on whether or not you think winning the debates in October matters.  I mean it strikes me that going up against Barack Obama is going to come down to what Margaret Thatcher used to say when she said that, ‘First you win the argument, then you win the vote.” 

Gingrich continued that thought, saying the GOP has to nominate someone who “philosophically and practically can be on the same stage” with Obama.  “I think you could see a Gingrich versus Obama range of choices that would be very wide,” he said.

Tim Pawlenty @ Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is the fourth candidate to speak at this evening’s Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event in Waukee, Iowa.  (Listen to his speech.)

“Well, thanks a lot, or as President Obama would say, ‘You’re welcome,'” Pawlenty began, getting a laugh. then he quickly launched into a story about LBJ and a prayer LBJ aide Bill Moyers was delivering at a White House meeting.  When LBJ complained he couldn’t hear Moyers praying, Moyers replied: “It wasn’t you I was talkin’ to.”

Pawlenty continued: “That’s a great story about remembering where we get our help from.”

Pawlenty mentioned Ronald Reagan and how the Bible Reagan used to take the oath of office in 1981 was “opened up” to II Chronicles 7:14.

“We need to know where our helps comes from. We need to be a country that turns toward God, not a country that turns away from God,” Pawlenty said. “…The constitution was designed to protect people of fatih from government, not to protect government from people of faith.”

Pawlenty stressed his pro-life stand and his opposition to gay marriage.

“We need leaders that can not just talk the talk, but walk the walk,” he said, adding it’s important to have the “compass set right.”

Pawlenty seems to be adopting a southern accent as he talks about his record as governor of Minnesota.  “It ain’t gonna be easy,” Pawlenty said as he wound down.  “…This is about plowing ahead and getting the job done.”

Pawlenty came back after the crowd applauded to apologize to Steve Scheffler, the president of the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, who he had called “Chuck” a few times.  “There’s a Chuck Scheffler in Minnesota,” he explained.

Ralph Reed @ Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event

Ralph Reed, the founder of the national Faith & Freedom Coalition, spoke to the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition crowd about the three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were voted off the bench in November’s judicial retention election.  Reed said the three justices had “refused to honor the traditional institution of marriage and we’re not done yet.”  The other four justices who signed onto the unanimous Varnum decision which paved the way for gay marriages in Iowa are still on the court.  Those justices are on the ballot in future retention elections.  Three new Republican members of the Iowa House have suggested those four justices should be impeached.

Reed’s brief, but pointed comment on this topic is interesting as a competing group representing Iowa conservatives — The Family Leader — has been more focused on the gay marriage issue than the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition.  And The Family Leader’s new president is Bob Vander Plaats, chair of the 2010 campaign to unseat the three justices.

Without naming Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels by name, Reed also blasted the “truce” on social issues Daniels had suggested might best serve the Republican Party in 2012 when economic issues seem to be paramount with voters.  (Daniels, a prospective presidential candidate, is NOT here this evening.)  “I’d like to have a leader that can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Reed said.

Santorum stresses stand against gay marriage, swipes at Daniels (VIDEO)

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is the guest on this weekend’s “Iowa Press” program on Iowa Public Television (the video is already online). This afternoon’s taping started with questions about gay marriage, specifically President Obama’s recent directive to the Justice Department to stop defending the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” and Santorum took a swipe at another potential presidential candidate, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.  (Daniels has suggested it’s time to “call a truce” on social issues.)

Read the transcript of Santorum’s remarks below:

Santorum: I’m obviously very disappointed.  The President, when he was campaigning, was very clear about his support for a bill that passed with over 90 votes in the United States Senate, was signed by President Clinton, which did something very basic which was that states would not be bullied into changing their marriage law by other states and mostly other state courts like what happened here in Iowa, that state courts wouldn’t impose marriage on one state and then litigators from that state then go to other states to force them to recognize Iowa’s marriage law or Massachusetts’ marriage law.  So, this was a way for the federal government to preserve the sovereignty of the states.  And it was a way of being sort of neutral on the issue of marriage instead of favoring one side over the other, let the people decide.  And what President Obama has done is in a two year period of time he went from finding this law to be perfectly fine and constitutional to finding it to be somehow unconstitutional even though, to my knowledge, the language of the Constitution hasn’t changed any in the last two years, yet his interpretation of it has.  And I think it is driven by politics, not by any real change in the Constitution and its meaning.

AP’s Mike Glover: And you issued a statement harshly critical of the President at the time that he acted.  But there has been sort of a strange silence from a lot of potential republican presidential candidates.  I haven’t heard much from a lot of them.  Why not?  Why haven’t I heard more?

Santorum: Look, I mean, all I can say is that if we do not, as a party and as a people, stand behind the institution of marriage and understand its essential role as the glue that holds the family together, the family, the building block of society, the first economy, the first school, the first place where children’s character is formed we are going to destine our children and destine the future of this country for a lower standard of living and less free and prosperous country.

Glover: Should we hear more from the other potential candidates?  Would you ask them to address the issue?

Santorum: All I can say is I have spoken loudly and will continue to speak loudly and if others choose not to I think they have to take the pluses and minuses in not doing so.  But I am going to be and have been a vocal supporter of traditional marriage.  I believe it is essential.  I’m not surprised.  In the Iowa elections, as you know, there were three justices up for, um, retention, I’m sorry, couldn’t find the word, thank you, Dean, up for retention in the last election and of the potential republican candidates I was the only one that came into the state, jumped on the judge bus, talked about the issue of having people decide what marriage laws should be, not courts and no other republican potential nominee or candidate came in to do the same.  So, I think it shows that there are some people who are willing to stand up and fight for the family and others who would rather, to use the comment of one potential candidate, call a truce on these things.  Well, a truce, in this case, means ceding ground to the other side.

Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson: How do you think this issue will play out in the Iowa caucus campaign in the contest among you and other candidates?

Santorum: Obviously the issue of marriage is an important one.  Never before in the history of Iowa, I’ve been told, were judges up for retention thrown out, in this case all three of them thrown out.  It is clear why they were thrown out is because they abused their position and imposed a novel meaning of marriage on the Constitution.

Henderson: But do you think in 2012, whenever the Iowa caucuses may be, that Iowa republicans will go into those meetings and vote for a candidate based on this issue?

Santorum: I think it will be a factor just like the jobs bill, I mean, the jobs issue will be a factor, just like national security will be a factor but I think it will be an important factor.  It is a relevant issue, obviously, in this state and I think it is an important issue for our country in understanding how essential it is to have strong families and marriage being the glue that holds that family together.

Henderson: For Republicans in the general election in 2012, is it a relevant issue of contrast with President Obama?  Do you think it will be a motivating factor for voters in 2012, November?

Santorum: Obviously here in Iowa it was a motivating factor.  In other states where there have been fights on marriage, 31 states have had referendums on the issue of marriage and those who supported traditional marriage have won 31 out of 31.  So, it is a motivating factor, it is a debate that is worth having.  I think one of the reasons that it has won in all 31 states including states like California and Maine is because once the debate happens people begin to see the ramifications to society at large of what a change in the marriage laws will mean, what is means to education, what it means to people’s religious freedom, what it means to churches and what they can preach.  All of these things then come into focus and we realize this isn’t just a harmful thing that affects people that we want to be kind to.  I certainly want to be kind and if people want to love somebody else they are perfectly free to love whoever they want to love.  It’s different, though, if you’re asking us to change the law about marriage and the impact of changing that law is on our schools and our children’s education and on our religious institutions.

Glover: Is there a political risk to you in taking this position on same-sex marriage and maybe a reason some of the other candidates have been less vocal?  I have seen some polling suggesting that for people under 40 this is a loser of an issue and it doesn’t motivate people in the overall universe.

Santorum: Mike and Kay, Dean, I’m sure you’ve looked at my political resume and I think you have looked at the issues that I have taken on in the sixteen years I was in public life and I don’t think anyone would accuse me of looking at the polls and determining what positions I fight for.  I look at what I think is in the best interest of the future of our country and it is clear to me that the best interest of the future of our country is that we have strong marriages and strong families and we raise children in the best possible atmosphere for those children to be raised and that is highlighting and supporting a child being raised by a mother and a father.  That is the ideal place.  Can children be raised in a different environment?  Yes.  But we want to do what is best for children and what is best for children, by any measure, and even the left now admits this, scientifically, social science work, children raised in two-parent homes with moms and dads do better.  And so as a society it is in our interest to encourage that and I think be re-defining marriage we don’t encourage it, we discourage it.

House debate on gay marriage

As many House members sit at their desks to eat the lunches provided by Iowa’s insurance industry, the debate has begun on a resolution that would set up a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment, an amendment which would declare the only legally valid unions in Iowa are those between a man and a woman.  It would make civil unions, domestic partnerships and same-sex marriages illegal. 

At 11:19 a.m., Representative Dwayne Alons began speaking about the history behind this proposal.  “A groundswell of support for traditional marriage has arisen and people all across Iowa are saying, ‘Let us vote!’ Alons said, raising his voice as he said those last three words.

He mentioned the 2010 judicial retention election which tossed three justices off the Iowa Supreme Court. “Iowans are kind of like the person in the cell phone advertisement,” Alons said. “They’re saying, ‘Can you hear me now?'”

Alons said a constitutional amendment is “the only way to rectify the overreach of the court in this situation.”

[Read more…]

Public hearing on gay marriage

What follows is a live blog of the first 10 speakers at a public hearing about a proposed House Resolution that (eventually) would put a constitutional amendment before Iowa voters, an amendment which would bar same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships and civil unions.

At 6:30 p.m. Rep. Richard Anderson, a Republican from Clarinda, opened this public hearing with an advisory about the “decorum” of the House and what is and isn’t allowed. “It is not a very nice evening out there, weatherwise,” Anderson said, adding that’s why the public hearing will end at 8:30 p.m. “because the streets are getting slick.”

At 6:36 p.m. the long process of listening to each legislator in the room announce their presence began. (There are state senators in the house, BTW, as well as state representatives.)  It took ’til 6:47 p.m. for that to end.   A supporter of the constitutional amendment will speak, then an opponent, and this will be pro/con process will continue through the end of the hearing.

Former State Rep. Danny Carroll of Grinnell from The FAMiLY Leader was first to speak, saying the pubic hearing was “two years overdue.”  Carroll called the supreme court’s ruling “offensive” and he said he was representing “thousands of families across the state” who want a chance to vote on the constitutional amendment.  “I support marriage as created by God…and I will be leading the campaign to support the institution of marriage that we have embraced in this state for so many years,” he said, saying a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment was a “reasonable” move.

Dawn BarbaRouske was next.  She was one of the plaintiffs in the Varnum case.  She told legislators she and her partner had been together for more than 20 years and had been married for a year and a half.  “Our marriage is woven together with love, hard-work, honesty…and respect,” she said, her voice breaking as she spoke. “We should not judge each other.  Not one marriage has been negatively impacted by our love for the past 20 years,” she said. 

The like-minded people in the crowd applauded.

Karen Mogenhan spoke next.  “I support traditional marriage. I know it to be best for…our state and our society,” she said, warning of unintended or ignored consequences of same-sex marriage such as changes in the education system from sex ed to prom to college dorms; denial of tax benefits to religious organizations that don’t believe in same-sex marriage.   “How do we fend off bigamy, polygamy?” she asked. “How long ’til another group comes forth?”

Like-minded people in the crowd applauded.

Zach Wahls, a 19-year-old U-of-I student and Eagle Scout who was raised by two women was next. “I guess the point that our family isn’t so different from any other Iowa family,” Wahls said.

More applause.

Mark Doland was next.  “Judges do not make law,” Doland said.  “…I’ve had to pull my kids out of public school.  It costs me $11,000.”  Doland said he had to pull his kids out of school because of an “activist teacher” who said it was normal to have same-sex relations.

More applause.

Suku Radia, CEO of Banker’s Trust, was next.  “I know well the tyranny of intolerance,” Radia said, of his native Uganda.  “…You can see why I have long treasured the tolerance of Iowans.”

“Please refrain from clapping,” Anderson said after Radia concluded.

Jen Green was next. “I’m actually not here to defend marriage.  Make no mistake, regardless of what happens…marriage has already been defined thousands of years ago by our creator,” she began.  The breakdown of marriage has occurred because people won’t “fight for it” and preserve the institution, she said.

Jane Erickson, a grad student at ISU, was next.  She was living in Massachusetts with her same-sex partner, but moved to Iowa after the Varnum decision to be closer to grandparents.   “My life is richer for every year that I share with Sarah,” she said.  “…The word marriage carries a different weight…a higher standard of obligation to one another.”

Marvin Smith was next, calling the Iowa Supreme Court’s Varnum decision a “vicious attack” on society. “They violated the design of the almighty from creation…demolishing the very core of our society – the family unit,” he said.

Former State Senator Jeff Angelo (formerly of Creston, now of Ames) called himself a “citizen activist” and said he had co-sponsored a similar amendment in the past when he was serving in the legislature. “I have changed my position on this issue,” he said.  “…The purpose of our constitution is to protect the rights of individuals.” Angelo said the debate in Iowa about gay marriage “centers around the devaluation of the lives of a select group of people” who are accused of a “nefarious” agenda.

“Iowans are discomforted by this debate, because we know it not to be true,” he said.  

Angelo got a little burst of applause.  “No more applause,” Anderson said.

No more live blogging.  I’m going to start writing a story for