Iowa Republicans marching from history on marriage equality

While more than 80 nationally prominent Republicans have signed on to a brief encouraging the U.S. Supreme Court to support marriage equality, Iowa Republican legislators continue to march lockstep behind efforts to overturn the Iowa Supreme Court’s Varnum v Brien ruling.

Today the American Foundation for Equal Rights unveiled a long list of Republicans who signed an amicus curiae, or "friend of the Court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting the challenge to California’s Proposition 8. Those who signed include two current members of Congress, five former members of Congress, six former governors, and many people who have held senior positions in the government or national Republican campaigns and committees. I’ve enclosed the whole list at the end of this post, along with other excerpts from the press release. The only Iowan to sign the amicus brief is David Kochel, a former senior adviser to Mitt Romney who "came out" for marriage equality a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Iowa Senate Republicans have again introduced a constitutional amendment to restrict marriage in Iowa to one man and one woman. Eighteen of the 24 GOP senators co-sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 5: Dennis Guth, Ken Rozenboom, Amy Sinclair, Jake Chapman, Mark Segebart, Jack Whitver, Sandy Greiner, Kent Sorenson, Mark Chelgren, Bill Anderson, Roby Smith, Joni Ernst, Rick Bertrand, Randy Feenstra, David Johnson, Hubert Houser, Jerry Behn, and Nancy Boettger. Six did not co-sponsor the amendment: Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix, Brad Zaun, Tim Kapucian, and newly-elected senators Charles Schneider, Mike Breitbach, and Dan Zumbach. However, Guth told the Des Moines Register’s William Petroski that “all of them have said they would vote for it if it would come to the floor.”

On one level, that’s an empty promise, since the marriage amendment won’t come to the Senate floor as long as Democrats maintain their majority. On another level, that promise gives these incumbents cover in case anyone ever challenges them from the right in a GOP primary.

Polls consistently show overwhelming support for marriage equality among younger Americans, but none of the Iowa Republican legislators in their 20s or 30s have taken that position. I suspect some of them will be embarrassed someday to have co-sponsored or voted for a marriage amendment.

Few current Iowa lawmakers resort to over-the-top fear-mongering about gay marriage destroying the family. In contrast to Republican reactions immediately after the Iowa Supreme Court ruling, one rarely hears about the need to “protect traditional marriage” anymore. Since Merlin Bartz lost his latest Iowa Senate re-election bid, I don’t think any sitting legislators have explicitly called on county recorders to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  

The Iowa GOP’s current politically correct language emphasizes support for the right to vote on the definition of marriage. Iowa House Majority Whip Chris Hagenow expressed this view on WHO-TV’s “The Insiders” program this Sunday: “Iowa Republicans […] continue to be in favor of allowing Iowans the right to vote on a marriage amendment.” I wish some journalist would ask these cowards what other minority rights they would like to subject to a majority vote. They don’t acknowledge that thousands of Iowans would lose fundamental rights if the marriage amendment passed.

Any relevant thoughts are welcome in this thread, especially hunches about the most hypocritical Iowa Republican legislators on this subject. In the Senate, I nominate Charles “this is a difficult issue” Schneider (he doesn’t look down on his gay friends and co-workers “as people”), along with Mark Chelgren, because there’s no way a legendary RAGBRAI party animal is sincerely offended by gays and lesbians getting married. In the House, I nominate Jake Highfill and Peter Cownie. They’s among the youngest members of the GOP caucus, and like Schneider, both represent largely suburban districts. I doubt they care who’s allowed to marry each other.

Press release, February 26:

Washington, DC – This week, more than 80 social and political conservatives, moderates, and libertarians from diverse religious, racial, regional, and philosophical backgrounds will file an amicus curiae, or “friend of the Court,” brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of the Plaintiffs challenging California’s Proposition 8 in Hollingsworth v. Perry.  […] Enacted in November 2008, Proposition 8 eliminated the fundamental freedom of gay and lesbian Californians to marry.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the sole sponsor of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the federal constitutional challenge to Proposition 8. […]

Building bi-partisan support has been part of AFER’s mission ever since the filing of its federal constitutional challenge to overturn Proposition 8.  AFER assembled a bi-partisan legal team led by Theodore B. Olson, Solicitor General of the United States during the first term of President George W. Bush, and renowned litigator David Boies to demonstrate that Proposition 8 violates the United States Constitution by denying millions of people their fundamental right to marry and their right to equal protection of the laws.


The challenge to Proposition 8, Hollingsworth v. Perry, was filed on May 22, 2009, in Federal District Court on behalf of two California couples, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo. On February 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark ruling upholding the historic August 2010 decision of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

On December 7, 2012, the Supreme Court granted review in Perry to consider whether Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  The Court will hear oral argument in Perry on March 26, 2013.

While the list of amici continues to grow, the current list includes:

Ken Mehlman, Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007

Tim Adams, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, 2005-2007

David D. Aufhauser, General Counsel, Department of Treasury, 2001-2003

Cliff S. Asness, Businessman, Philanthropist, and Author

John B. Bellinger III, Legal Adviser to the Department of State, 2005-2009

Katie Biber, General Counsel, Romney for President, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012

Mary Bono Mack, Member of Congress, 1998-2013

William A. Burck, Deputy Staff Secretary, Special Counsel and Deputy Counsel to the President, 2005-2009

Alex Castellanos, Republican Media Advisor

Paul Cellucci, Governor of Massachusetts, 1997-2001, and Ambassador to Canada, 2001-2005

Mary Cheney, Director of Vice Presidential Operations, Bush-Cheney 2004

Jim Cicconi, Assistant to the President & Deputy to the Chief of Staff, 1989-1990

James B. Comey, United States Deputy Attorney General, 2003-2005

R. Clarke Cooper, U.S. Alternative Representative, United Nations Security Council, 2007-2009

Julie Cram, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director White House Office of Public Liaison, 2007-2009

Michele Davis, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Director of Policy Planning, Department of the Treasury, 2006-2009

Kenneth M. Duberstein, White House Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President, 1981-1984 and 1987-1989

Lew Eisenberg, Finance Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2002-2004

Elizabeth Noyer Feld, Public Affairs Specialist, White House Office of Management and Budget, 1984-1987

David Frum, Special Assistant to the President, 2001-2002

Richard Galen, Communications Director, Speaker’s Political Office, 1996-1997

Mark Gerson, Chairman, Gerson Lehrman Group and Author of The Neoconservative Vision: From the Cold War to the Culture Wars and In the Classroom: Dispatches from an Inner-City School that Works

Benjamin Ginsberg, General Counsel, Bush-Cheney 2000 & 2004

Adrian Gray, Director of Strategy, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007

Richard Grenell, Spokesman, U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations, 2001-2008

Patrick Guerriero, Mayor, Melrose Massachusetts and member of Massachusetts House of Representatives, 1993-2001

Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce, 2005-2009

Stephen Hadley, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, 2005-2009

Richard Hanna, Member of Congress, 2011-Present

Israel Hernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, 2005-2009

Margaret Hoover, Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, 2005-2006

Michael Huffington, Member of Congress, 1993-1995

Jon Huntsman, Governor of Utah, 2005-2009

David A. Javdan, General Counsel, United States Small Business Administration, 2002-2006

Reuben Jeffery, Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs, 2007-2009

Greg Jenkins, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Advance, 2003-2004

Coddy Johnson, National Field Director, Bush-Cheney 2004

Gary Johnson, Governor of New Mexico, 1995-2003

Robert Kabel, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, 1982-1985

Theodore W. Kassinger, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, 2004-2005

Jonathan Kislak, Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for Small Community and Rural Development, 1989-1991

David Kochel, Senior Advisor to Mitt Romney’s Iowa Campaign, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012

James Kolbe, Member of Congress, 1985-2007

Jeffrey Kupfer, Acting Deputy Secretary of Energy, 2008-2009

Kathryn Lehman, Chief of Staff, House Republican Conference, 2003-2005

Daniel Loeb, Businessman and Philanthropist

Alex Lundry, Director of Data Science, Romney for President, 2012

Greg Mankiw, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005

Catherine Martin, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Communications Director for Policy & Planning, 2005-2007

Kevin Martin, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 2005-2009

David McCormick, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, 2007-2009

Mark McKinnon, Republican Media Advisor

Bruce P. Mehlman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, 2001-2003

Connie Morella, Member of Congress, 1987-2003 and U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2003-2007

Michael E. Murphy, Republican Political Consultant

Michael Napolitano, White House Office of Political Affairs, 2001-2003

Ana Navarro, National Hispanic Co-Chair for Senator John McCain’s Presidential Campaign, 2008

Noam Neusner, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Speechwriting, 2002-2005

Nancy Pfotenhauer, Economist, Presidential Transition Team, 1988 and President’s Council on Competitiveness, 1990

J. Stanley Pottinger, Assistant U.S. Attorney General (Civil Rights Division), 1973-1977

Michael Powell, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 2001-2005

Deborah Pryce, Member of Congress, 1993-2009

John Reagan, New Hampshire State Senator, 2012-Present

Kelley Robertson, Chief of Staff, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member of Congress, 1989-Present

Harvey S. Rosen, Member and Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005

Lee Rudofsky, Deputy General Counsel, Romney for President, 2012

Patrick Ruffini, eCampaign Director, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007

Steve Schmidt, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Vice President, 2004-2006

Ken Spain, Communications Director, National Republican Congressional Committee, 2009-2010

Robert Steel, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance, 2006-2008

David Stockman, Director, Office of Management and Budget, 1981-1985

Jane Swift, Governor of Massachusetts, 2001-2003

Michael E. Toner, Chairman and Commissioner, Federal Election Commission, 2002-2007

Michael Turk, eCampaign Director for Bush-Cheney 2004

Mark Wallace, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Representative for UN Management and Reform, 2006-2008

Nicolle Wallace, Assistant to the President and White House Communications Director, 2005-2008

William F. Weld, Governor of Massachusetts, 1991-1997, and Assistant U.S. Attorney General (Criminal Division), 1986-1988

Christine Todd Whitman, Governor of New Jersey, 1994-2001, and Administrator of the EPA, 2001-2003

Meg Whitman, Republican Nominee for Governor of California, 2010

Robert Wickers, Republican Political Consultant

Dan Zwonitzer, Wyoming State Representative, 2005-present

About the American Foundation for Equal Rights

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Brown), the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.  After bringing together bipartisan attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality.

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