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Prominent Iowa Republican moderate switches parties

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 22, 2015 at 13:21:58 PM CDT

Todd Dorman has big news in today's Cedar Rapids Gazette: Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson changed his party registration to Democratic last week.

As a Democrat, I welcome any fair-minded person to our party. But as the daughter of a Rockefeller Republican, I'm saddened by yet another sign GOP moderates are a vanishing breed.  

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Throwback Thursday: When Steve King said counties denying marriage licenses was "no solution"

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 10, 2015 at 22:22:27 PM CDT

I suppose it was inevitable that Representative Steve King would insert himself into the national debate over a Kentucky county clerk using her religious beliefs as an excuse not to do her job. King's immediate reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on marriage equality was to urge states to "just abolish civil marriage, let's go back to holy matrimony the way it began." A couple of weeks later, he introduced a Congressional resolution saying states "may refuse to be bound by the holding in Obergefell v. Hodges" and "are not required to license same-sex marriage or recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states."

This past weekend, King lit up Twitter by saying of the Rowan County clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses,

In 1963, we should not have honored SCOTUS decision to creat a wall of separation between prayer & school. Kim Davis for Rosa Parks Award.

On Tuesday, King doubled down in an interview with KSCJ radio in Sioux City: "Cheers for [Mike] Huckabee and [Ted] Cruz, whoever else has stepped up to defend Kim Davis. I think she deserves the Rosa Parks Award."

Would you believe there was a time when King said calling for county officials to refuse to abide by a Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality was "no solution" in the battle to "protect marriage"?

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Weekend open thread: Iowa Wing Ding edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 16, 2015 at 15:37:38 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

More than twenty Iowa Democratic county committees put on a great "Wing Ding" in Clear Lake Friday night. The Surf Ballroom was packed to capacity, thanks to appearances by four of the five Democratic presidential hopefuls. Despite a fairly long list of speakers including candidates for U.S. House and Senate and State Senator Amanda Ragan, who was receiving an award, the Wing Ding amazingly finished ahead of schedule. I enclose below my take on all the speeches.

For those following the saga of three former Ron Paul campaign operatives, recently indicted for their role in making illegal payments to then State Senator Kent Sorenson: Russ Choma covered the prosecutors' latest court filing for Mother Jones. Prosecutors allege the operatives "were prepared to leak documents to harm Sorenson in 2012 if they couldn't obtain his endorsement for Ron Paul." An attorney for Jesse Benton acknowledged that in late 2011, his client "threatened to expose Mr. Sorenson, believing that Mr. Sorenson was trying to blackmail the 2012 RP Campaign, if Mr. Sorenson did not make up his mind on whether to commit to the Ron Paul Campaign." But the lawyer said Benton did not follow through on what he described as "a knee-jerk, emotional reaction." Of course, there would have been no reason to carry out the threat after Sorenson agreed to take the money in exchange for switching his allegiance to Paul.

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Throwback Thursday: Curt Hanson's crucial Iowa House special election victory

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 13, 2015 at 21:00:00 PM CDT

Today is State Representative Curt Hanson's birthday. Six years ago at this time, he was in the thick of the first state legislative campaign following the Iowa Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien ruling on marriage equality. Hanson's win in a highly competitive House district was probably the second most important special election in recent Iowa history (after Liz Mathis's victory in November 2011, which protected the Democratic Iowa Senate majority).

Kicking off an occasional "throwback Thursday" series, Bleeding Heartland takes a look at Hanson's first campaign for the Iowa House.

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Satire apparently a difficult concept for Quad Cities tv station WQAD

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 08, 2015 at 15:39:59 PM CDT

First, Representative Steve King absurdly claimed a "strong, Christian lawyer" told him the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage means "you could marry your lawnmower."

In response, Pat Rynard shot a video of himself purportedly attempting to marry his lawnmower. Polk County Recorder Julie Haggerty patiently explained to Rynard why such a marriage would be impossible under the law.

Anyone who watched the video or read the post at Iowa Starting Line would understand Rynard pulled off the stunt to mock King for "insinuating that two loving gay men or women entering into marriage is as bizarre and unnatural as someone marrying their lawnmower."

Anyone, that is, except several journalists at WQAD in the Quad Cities. In a televised segment, they claimed "a man in Des Moines tried to marry his lawnmower."  

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Republican presidential debates discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 07, 2015 at 00:09:01 AM CDT

The Republican presidential candidates debated for the first time today in Cleveland. First, the seven contenders who didn't make the cut for the prime-time event participated in a "happy hour" debate (some commentators called it the "junior varsity" or "kids' table" debate). I missed the beginning of that event, but from what I saw, Carly Fiorina and Bobby Jindal stood out. Jindal's closing statement seemed the strongest to me (if I try to imagine how a conservative would receive the messages). Rick Santorum and Rick Perry had some good moments. Lindsey Graham seemed to give rehearsed answers that weren't always relevant to the question. George Pataki was memorable only for being the sole pro-choice candidate in a field of seventeen. Jim Gilmore failed to provide any good reason for him to be there.

The Fox News panel seemed determined to go after Donald Trump. He didn't have a convincing story for why he has changed his mind on issues like abortion rights and single-payer health care. His answer to the question about his corporate bankruptcies struck me as extremely weak and weaselly. On the plus side, he deflected a question about his disgusting sexist remarks by beating his chest about political correctness. He also got the most speaking time--twice as much as Rand Paul, who had the least time to speak.

Paul scored a hit by calling attention to the fact that Trump won't rule out running for president as an independent. Paul also slammed Chris Christie for giving President Barack Obama "a big hug." Although Christie handled that exchange well, I am skeptical he can overcome his high negatives with GOP base voters. I felt Paul got the better of Christie during their heated exchange over warrantless wiretapping and the Fourth Amendment. UPDATE: As of Friday morning, a "Vine" of Paul rolling his eyes while Christie talked had more than 4 million loops.

John Kasich staked out a moderate-conservative niche that the pundits loved. I'm not convinced he can become a real contender for the nomination, but he certainly has a story to tell.

I don't understand the hype about Marco Rubio. He doesn't impress me at all.

Jeb Bush didn't speak fluidly or forcefully. I read that he didn't do "live" debate prep with his staff. If that's true, it was a mistake. Scott Walker was also underwhelming, and I expected more of a splash from Ted Cruz, though maybe they had some better moments in the parts I missed. In contrast, Mike Huckabee is an excellent communicator. Ben Carson didn't seem to get questions that allowed him to distinguish himself. His tax reform proposal is based on what the Bible says about tithing.

Factcheck.org exposed some false statements from the "happy hour" and the prime time debate.

Any comments about the debates or the Republican presidential race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Trump's further insults to Megyn Kelly of Fox News got him uninvited from this weekend's Red State forum, prompting a typically outrageous response from the Trump campaign. Meanwhile, sexist tweets about Kelly have exploded since the debate. I believe women watching the debate would have felt deeply alienated by how many in the audience approved of Trump's answer to the question about his sexism.  

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The Boy Scouts of America Gets Better

by: ZachWahls

Wed Jul 29, 2015 at 17:28:51 PM CDT

(Appreciate this perspective from the co-founder of Scouts for Equality. Wahls gained instant fame as a voice for LGBT equality when he testified against a constitutional amendment on marriage at an Iowa House public hearing in 2011. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

One of the most powerful refrains to emerge from the LGBT rights movement over the last several years has been the slogan/mantra/guiding belief It Gets Better. One reason this idea inspires me is that nearly all of us can connect to it and understand it in a context that is relevant to our individual lives. And occasionally, we can watch it play out on a national level.

On Monday, the Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board voted 79% to 21% to end that organization's long-standing ban on gay adult members. (The BSA ended its ban on gay youth members in 2013.) As the proud Eagle Scout son of a same-sex couple from Iowa City, the executive director of Scouts for Equality, and someone who's been working on this issue for more than three years, I was elated. And there's still more work to do.

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Three cheers for Iowa's county recorders

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 24, 2015 at 11:23:52 AM CDT

Less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court majority struck down state-level bans on same-sex marriages, at least two county clerks in Kentucky have refused to issue marriage licenses to LGBT couples, prompting a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky on behalf of four couples. One of the county clerks has decided to stop issuing marriage licenses to anyone in her county so that she can't be forced to perform that service for LGBT citizens. How embarrassing. You want nothing to do with same-sex marriages? Go work for a church that doesn't recognize them.

I'm so proud that to my knowledge, no county recorder in Iowa ever used his or her religious convictions as an excuse for not doing a secular job in a professional way.

Not for lack of trying by some social conservative activists, egged on by certain Iowa Republican lawmakers. Follow me after the jump for a walk down memory lane and a list of Iowa counties where LGBT couples have exercised their right to marry since 2009.

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Steve King encouraging states to disregard marriage equality ruling

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 10, 2015 at 14:02:58 PM CDT

Having tried unsuccessfully to prevent federal courts from hearing cases about marriage rights, Representative Steve King (IA-04) introduced a resolution today that would express the U.S. House's disagreement with last month's U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion in Obergefell v Hodges.

King's effort surely qualifies as the "strong message" he promised to send to the Supreme Court immediately after the Obergefell decision. But it is strikingly different from his response to the Iowa Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling in 2009.

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Obergefell Decision Enhances Religious Liberty

by: JoeStutler

Tue Jul 07, 2015 at 09:20:55 AM CDT

(I couldn't agree more. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Since the Supreme Court of the United States issued its ruling in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, affirming the right of same-gender couples throughout the country to marry, some politicians and pundits have claimed religious liberty is now threatened in our nation.

"This decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty," said Mike Huckabee. Bobby Jindal said the decision was the start of an "all-out assault on religious freedom." Ted Cruz said, "Religious liberty has never been so threatened as it is today."

Of course, that's not true. The decision has no adverse impact on any religious institutions or faith leaders. In fact, the decision has quite the opposite impact. It's a victory for religious liberty.  

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Iowa reaction to Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jun 27, 2015 at 06:42:23 AM CDT

In a 5-4 decision announced Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states and ordered state governments to recognize same-sex marriages performed anywhere in the country. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Obergefell v Hodges, joined by Justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer. Each of the dissenting justices wrote a separate opinion; all are available in this pdf file after Kennedy's opinion. Amy Howe explained the majority opinion in "Plain English" while Lyle Denniston posted a brief analysis.

Follow me after the jump for Iowa reaction on both sides of the marriage debate. Two years ago, Bleeding Heartland compiled Iowa politicians' comments on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Windsor, which struck down the federal ban on same-sex marriages but left state bans intact.

As a group, Iowa Democratic politicians are more enthusiastic and less cautious about welcoming marriage equality now than was the case in 2009, when the Iowa Supreme Court struck down our state's Defense of Marriage Act. Many Iowa Republicans called for elected officials to overturn the 2009 Varnum v Brien ruling by passing a constitutional amendment, but reacting to the latest U.S. Supreme Court ruling, few in the Iowa GOP sounded hopeful that there was any chance to reinstate state bans on same-sex marriage.

I will update this post as needed.  

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Weekend open thread: Des Moines pride and GOP clown car edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun May 17, 2015 at 10:57:51 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

According to Gallup's latest well-being survey of people in the 100 largest U.S. metro areas, residents of the Des Moines metro area "are the most likely to say they are proud of their community," with some 76.5 percent of central Iowa respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with a statement about community pride. Gallup's write-up noted a correlation between that sentiment and feeling "safe and secure." A remarkable 85.7 percent of Des Moines area respondents said they "always feel safe and secure," a higher level than in any other metro area Gallup surveyed.

Washington Post reporter Philip Bump speculated, "The two proudest cities are in Iowa and S.C., because people love being fawned over by politicians." I really don't think so.

In the past few years, at least three dozen lists measuring quality of life or economic factors have put the Des Moines area in the top five or ten communities nationwide. Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has raved about some of the amenities our metro has to offer. Having lived in a couple of great American cities and a couple of great European cities, I moved back to the Des Moines area for the long haul. Although I am way more politically engaged than the average person, I wouldn't factor presidential candidate visits into a decision on where to raise my children.

Speaking of being fawned over by politicians, eleven declared or potential contenders for the presidency spoke at the Iowa GOP's Lincoln Dinner last night. Three declared candidates missed the event (former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz), as did at least a couple of others who are considering the presidential race (Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie). A dozen or more candidates will likely crowd the stage at GOP primary debates. My thoughts about the Lincoln Dinner speakers are coming in a future post. Philip Rucker and Jenna Johnson wrote a good piece for the Washington Post on Republican insiders' growing anxiety about their large presidential field. Their sources included a heavyweight hated by many Iowa conservatives:

We're in a danger zone," said Doug Gross, a top Republican establishment figure in Iowa. "When the party poobahs put this process together, they thought they could telescope this to get us a nominee who could appeal to a broad cross-section of people. What we've got instead is a confederation of a lot of candidates who aren't standing out - and in order to stand out, you need to scream the loudest."

Speaking of people who stand out by screaming loudly, Representative Steve King posted a picture of himself yesterday with Dick and Betty Odgaard, who (in his words) were "targeted by LGBT activists/litigated out of 1man/1woman wedding business." False. Here's what really happened after the Odgaards refused to let a gay couple rent the Görtz Haus in Grimes for a wedding.  

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Weekend open thread, with more marriage equality links

by: desmoinesdem

Sun May 03, 2015 at 13:07:10 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Marriage equality has been all over the news, with the sixth anniversary of legal same-sex marriage in Iowa arriving the same week the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments related to state bans on marriage for LGBT couples. The Des Moines Register published charts showing Iowa poll findings on same-sex marriage going back to 1996. In that year, the Iowa House and Senate approved the Defense of Marriage Act, which the state Supreme Court struck down in the 2009 Varnum v Brien decision. Then State Representative Ed Fallon was the only Iowa lawmaker to vote against the DOMA; click here to read his passionate floor speech against the bill. I've posted excerpts after the jump.

The Washington Post compiled five charts showing "gay marriage's road to popularity." The most fascinating data point to me was that 34 percent of Republican respondents in an April 2015 nationwide Washington Post/ABC News poll now support marriage equality. Another chart shows that "Same-sex marriage attitudes also continue to be divided along religious lines." That data set did not include Jews, however, who overwhelmingly support marriage equality.

Today's Sunday Des Moines Register includes two good features by Mike Kilen following up on the six couples who were plaintiffs in the Varnum case. In a separate piece, Bob Vander Plaats and State Senator Dennis Guth told Kilen why they still believe it was a mistake to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger believes the decline in Republican voter registrations in his state is linked to "divisive battle over Proposition 8," a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. California voters approved Prop 8 by ballot initiative in 2008, but it ceased to be in effect in June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Prop 8 supporters did not have standing to appeal a lower-court ruling striking down the marriage ban.

Final note: Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines approved a request by a group of students to form a non-religious LGBT support club. The school recently made national news by withdrawing a contract offer made to an openly gay teacher. The new gay-straight alliance, "One Human Family," will help provide "support, respect, and guidance" for students who either identify as LGBT or have questions about their sexual orientation.  

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Ten links on the Supreme Court's oral arguments about same-sex marriage

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Apr 28, 2015 at 20:46:42 PM CDT

The U.S. Supreme Court heard two and a half hours of oral arguments this morning in several cases related to same-sex marriage rights, collectively called Obergefell v. Hodges. This thread is for any relevant comments or speculation.

April 27 marked six years since LGBT couples were able to obtain marriage licenses in Iowa under our state Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien ruling. Bleeding Heartland recently compiled some links related to the marriage equality battle in Iowa.

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Weekend open thread: Latest Steve King publicity stunt edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 26, 2015 at 09:48:19 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Iowa's own Representative Steve King (R, IA-04) grabbed national attention this week by introducing a bill to "prevent federal courts from hearing marriage cases," thereby stopping the U.S. Supreme Court from "destroying traditional marriage." After the jump I've posted King's official statement about the "Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act" as well as the full text.

President Barack Obama would surely veto this bill, even if it quickly passed the U.S. House (unlikely) and Senate (less likely). So King's effort looks like a publicity stunt to bolster his image as one of the leading culture warriors on the right.

Out of curiosity, I asked Drake Law School Professor Mark Kende, an expert on constitutional law, whether it would theoretically be possible for Congress to limit the Supreme Court's authority to consider any case on marriage. According to Kende, the U.S. Constitution allows Congress to "make exceptions to the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction." Most Congressional efforts along these lines have failed to become law. However, a 19th-century precedent exists; in that case, Congress blocked the Supreme Court from ruling on an appeal in which justices had already heard oral arguments.

Whether King's proposal would be constitutional is a more complicated question, Kende said. The Reconstruction-era law blocked a specific kind of appeal based on habeas corpus but did not bar the Supreme Court from ruling on all cases in that area of the law. The Constitution allows some leeway for "jurisdiction stripping" as a Congressional check on the judiciary, but that doesn't necessarily mean citizens could be prevented from taking any case about their fundamental marriage rights to the Supreme Court.

In an alternate universe where Congress passed and the president signed King's bill, the twelve federal appellate court rulings would be binding in their regions. Most federal court rulings on same-sex marriage bans have supported the principle of marriage equality. Only a divided 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld states' ability to limit marriage rights to opposite-sex couples.

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Dowling Catholic High School considering request for gay-straight alliance

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Apr 18, 2015 at 14:58:17 PM CDT

Administrators at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines are considering students' request to form "a non-religious LGBT support club." The school made national news recently for withdrawing a contract offered to a teacher after administrators learned he was openly gay. After at least 150 students walked out of class to protest the hiring decision, a junior at the school who is gay started a petition seeking to form a club where all students "can feel supported and loved." Initially school officials said they would discuss the request, and at this writing, they have not announced a decision. Gay-straight alliances exist in scores of Iowa public high schools, but to my knowledge, the only Catholic school in the state with such a club is Regina High School in Iowa City.

After the jump I've posted excerpts from Liam Jameson's petition at Change.org and the full text of an e-mail Dowling Catholic President Jerry Deegan sent to parents on April 16. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

On a related note, although I could not be more strongly pro-choice, I believe students at Hampton-Dumont High School in Franklin County, Iowa should be allowed to form a "Students for Life" club, as long as staff don't promote the club and students are not required to attend.

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Still not convinced Martin O'Malley is running for president

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 22:49:00 PM CDT

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has been laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign for quite a while. These past few days, he continued to walk and talk just like a presidential candidate would in Iowa. On Thursday, he spoke at Simpson College and headlined a fundraiser for State Representative Scott Ourth before speaking to a good crowd in a heavily Democratic Des Moines neighborhood. The next day, he taped an episode of "Iowa Press" on Iowa Public Television (video and full transcript here; excerpts after the jump). O'Malley wrapped up Friday with a well-received speech at the Polk County Democrats' spring event (click through for video or audio). The stump speech blended a summary of his accomplishments as Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor with a vision for the future. For laughs and applause, he threw in some good jabs at tea party Republicans. Before and after the speech, O'Malley worked the room of activists. His staff had put down placemats and postcards for people to take home.

Yet I still can't shake the feeling that O'Malley will not follow through with running for president.  

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Dowling Catholic High School at epicenter of gay rights controversy (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 08, 2015 at 13:01:39 PM CDT

As a religious institution, Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines is exempt from Iowa Code provisions that have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 2007.

But as local Catholic leaders are learning this week, a legal exemption can't immunize Dowling from political fallout over the decision to withdraw a teaching contract offered to an openly gay man.  

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Ted Cruz's first tv ad, plus highlights from his latest Iowa trip

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Apr 06, 2015 at 14:07:21 PM CDT

On Easter Sunday, Senator Ted Cruz became the first presidential candidate this cycle to run a television commercial. The video and transcript are after the jump, along with highlights from Cruz's events in Sioux City, Dubuque, Durango, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines on April 1 and 2.

Nothing I've seen or heard from Cruz lately changes my view that he will crash and burn in the Iowa caucuses.

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Weekend open thread: Iowa marriage equality anniversary edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 05, 2015 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

Happy Passover or Happy Easter to all who are celebrating this weekend. In past years Bleeding Heartland has posted links about those religious holidays. For today's open thread, I'm reflecting on the Iowa Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien ruling, announced on April 3, 2009.

Lambda Legal, which represented the Varnum plaintiffs, published a timeline of the case. The LGBT advocacy group filed the lawsuit in December 2005, banking on the Iowa Supreme Court's "extraordinary history" of independence and "civil rights leadership."

If Iowa lawmakers had approved a state constitutional amendment on marriage, the Varnum case might never have been filed (in anticipation of Iowans approving a ban on same-sex marriage, as voters had done in many other states). But during the 2004 legislative session, the marriage amendment failed by one vote in the upper chamber, thanks to the united Senate Democratic caucus, joined by GOP senators Maggie Tinsman, Don Redfern, Mary Lundby, and Doug Shull. All four Republican moderates had left the legislature by the time the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Varnum. Redfern retired in 2004. Tinsman lost her 2006 primary to a social conservative challenger. Shull retired from the Senate in 2006 and unsuccessfully sought a seat in the state House that year. Lundby retired from the legislature in 2008 and passed away the following year.  

Reading through the early Democratic and Republican reaction to the Varnum decision should make all Iowa Democrats proud. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and former House Speaker Pat Murphy deserve credit for their leadership at a time when some Democrats would have run for cover on an issue perceived to be unpopular. Minority civil rights should never be conditional on majority approval.

As for the Republicans in the Bleeding Heartland community, you can be proud that your party's state legislators seem less and less interested in fighting the losing battle to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.

Three of the seven justices who concurred in Varnum v Brien (Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice David Baker, and Justice Michael Streit) lost their jobs in Iowa's 2010 retention elections. Justice David Wiggins survived a campaign against his retention in 2012. The remaining three justices who concurred in the decision are up for retention in 2016: Chief Justice Mark Cady (author of the ruling), Justice Daryl Hecht, and Justice Brent Appel. It's not yet clear whether Bob Vander Plaats and his fellow-travellers will make a serious effort to remove them, or whether they will give up in the face of Iowans' growing acceptance of marriage equality.

The LGBT advocacy group One Iowa holds an annual gala around the anniversary of the Varnum ruling. Last night the group honored Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum and Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu, among others. I enclose below a statement from the group marking six years since gay and lesbian couples won the freedom to marry in Iowa.

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