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marriage equality

End of the road for opponents of marriage equality? (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 16:15:47 PM CDT

When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year, justices side-stepped the issue of state bans on same-sex marriage, either by statute or by constitution. Since that time, various U.S. Courts of Appeal have struck down state-level bans, using reasoning similar to the high court's in U.S. v. Windsor. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will not hear appeals of five such rulings. As Adam Liptak reported for the New York Times, the move "may signal the inevitability of a nationwide right to same-sex marriage."

The development, a major surprise, cleared the way for same-sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Officials in Virginia announced that marriages would start at 1 p.m. on Monday.

The decision to let the appeals court rulings stand, which came without explanation in a series of brief orders, will almost immediately increase the number of states allowing same-sex marriage from 19 to 24, along with the District of Columbia. The impact of the move will in short order be even broader.

Monday's orders let stand decisions from three federal appeals courts with jurisdiction over six other states that ban same-sex marriage: Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. Those appeals courts will almost certainly follow their own precedents to strike down those additional bans as well, meaning the number of states with same-sex marriage should soon climb to 30. [...]

Other appeals courts are likely to rule soon on yet other marriage bans, including the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. That court has jurisdiction over nine states. If it rules in favor of same-sex marriage, as expected, it is unlikely to enter a stay, and, given Monday's developments at the Supreme Court, there is no particular reason to think the justices will.

It's all over but the shouting. And speaking of shouting, I've enclosed below the reaction to today's news from the FAMiLY Leader organization, which spearheaded the backlash against the Iowa Supreme Court over its 2009 decision in Varnum v Brien. No Iowa Supreme Court justices are up for retention this year. The remaining three justices who were part of the Varnum ruling will be up for retention in 2016: Chief Justice Mark Cady (author of that unanimous decision), Justice Brent Appel, and Justice Daryl Hecht.

The Alliance for Justice has compiled details on every federal court ruling related to marriage equality here. That organization's president, Nan Aron, said in a statement today, "It is disappointing that the Supreme Court declined to take any of the marriage equality cases decided by federal appeals courts.  In 2013, in its decisions on the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and on Proposition 8, the Supreme Court began to bend the arc of history toward justice on this issue. By declining to take these cases, the Court passed up an opportunity to finish the job."

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. UPDATE: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is not going to fight against marriage equality in Wisconsin anymore. Accepting reality may work against him if he runs in the 2016 Iowa Republican caucuses.

SECOND UPDATE: I've enclosed below a statement from Republican Party of Iowa Co-Chair Cody Hoefert. I am intrigued that Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann doesn't seem interested in speaking out on this issue anymore. In 2011, he voted for a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Kaufmann retired in 2012, and his son Bobby Kaufmann was elected to succeed him in the Iowa House. Bobby Kaufmann declined to co-sponsor a marriage amendment in 2013.  

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Des Moines ranked 4th most LGBT-friendly metro area in U.S.

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 06:50:00 AM CDT

Hardly a month goes by without news about Des Moines scoring a top-ten national ranking on some economic or livability metric. Here's something I didn't expect, though: the new "Vocativ Queer Index" rates the Des Moines metro fourth among the top 35 queer-friendly cities in the U.S.

Vocativ examined the 100 largest metro areas on sixteen factors related to the quality of life for the LGBT community. Click through to read the full list and how Des Moines scored in each category. In particular, the website hailed the Iowa capital's "inclusive attitude toward adoption and marriage equality, not to mention its high-profile out politicians" like State Senator Matt McCoy and State Representative Daniel Lundby (whom they mistook for a member of Congress).  

Happy Pride Month to everyone in the Bleeding Heartland community. After the jump I've posted recent news about how Iowa Safe Schools, a Des Moines-based advocacy group, is working to improve the environment for LGBTQ students in public schools all around the state.

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More background on Iowa GOP platform dispute on marriage

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 09:29:00 AM CDT

Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee member David Chung wrote a must-read post at his Hawkeye GOP blog about Saturday's dispute over marriage language in the first district Iowa GOP platform. Excerpt:

In the platform committee multiple attempts to add a pro-marriage plank failed. [Liberty faction State Central Committee member] Tony [Krebsbach] only proposed the government-out-of-marriage plank because he did not want the platform to be silent on the issue. In the committee, Tony wanted a pro-marriage plank included. So in the committee (and on the convention floor) he wanted a pro-marriage plank to appear in the platform as it has for several years. As a compromise, he proposed the current plank taking the more libertarian position.

The floor votes happened because somehow the "government-out-of-marriage plank did not make it into the printed version of the proposed platform that was distributed to delegates." Three times IA-01 delegates rejected amendments that would have restored language opposing same-sex marriage rights. Eventually the wording about keeping the government out of marriage was added to the platform.

Delegates to the statewide GOP convention are not ready for a real debate on marriage equality yet, but it will happen by 2018 or 2020 at the latest. Chung is committed to making sure the statewide party platform includes a "one man, one woman marriage" plank, even though he recognizes that "traditional marriage is probably a losing issue today" and "is one of the biggest issues that keeps young people out of the Republican Party." At some point a critical mass of party activists will get tired of fighting this battle.

Meanwhile, the governor's office is trying to straddle the fence.

"The governor and lieutenant governor believe in traditional one-man and one-woman marriage," spokesman Jimmy Centers told the Register. "(They) do not try to influence or counsel delegates on what planks they should or should not offer and support."

So they agree with social conservative activists on "traditional marriage," but they don't care whether the Republican platform reflects that position? Doesn't make a lot of sense. But then, they've never been coherent on this issue. In 2010, Branstad's campaign spokesman had to backpedal fast after the candidate indicated he had no problem with gay couples adopting children. Soon after Reynolds joined the ticket, she got in trouble for comments indicating support for civil unions.

UPDATE: Added more Republican reaction below.

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Weekend open thread: Big Iowa GOP changes

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 27, 2014 at 10:10:00 AM CDT

The Republican Party of Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party held district conventions yesterday. Nothing particularly important happened at the Democratic conventions, but the GOP gatherings continued the march toward overthrowing the "Liberty" faction that gained control soon after the 2012 caucuses. No one from the Ron Paul orbit won a seat on the newly-elected State Central Committee, which will take over after the party's state convention in June. They are likely to replace Danny Carroll and Gopal Krishna in the party's top leadership positions.

I've listed the new State Central Committee members after the jump. Notable names include Governor Terry Branstad's legal counsel Brenna Findley and William Gustoff, both elected to represent the third district. Gustoff is a partner in the law firm headed by U.S. Senate candidate Matt Whitaker and State Representative Chris Hagenow. In 2011, Branstad named Gustoff to the State Judicial Nominating Commission, but the Iowa Senate did not confirm him. Findley briefly was an attorney with Whitaker Hagenow after she left Representative Steve King's staff to run for Iowa attorney general in 2010.

According to Kevin Hall of The Iowa Republican blog, "Liberty" activists handed out flyers at all four district conventions urging delegates not to vote for fourteen State Central Committee candidates. All fourteen of them won seats on the committee anyway.

Another interesting development: the GOP platform committee in the first district removed the plank declaring marriage to be between one man and one woman. Katherine Klingseis reported for The Des Moines Register that the new platform language asserts the government should have no role in marriage. Some delegates tried and failed three times yesterday to restore the traditional marriage plank through amendments. UPDATE: According to conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart, one of the IA-01 convention votes on platform language went 116 to 89 to remove so-called "defense of traditional marriage" from the district GOP platform.

Kathie Obradovich wrote up the six IA-03 candidates' pitches to Republican convention delegates. For now I consider it more likely than not that the nomination will be decided at a special district convention.

UPDATE: More thoughts on the Iowa GOP State Central Committee changes after the jump.

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Iowa marriage equality five-year anniversary thread

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 10:40:00 AM CDT

Five years ago today, the Iowa Supreme Court announced its unanimous decision in Varnum v Brien, striking down our state's Defense Of Marriage Act. Some Democratic politicians welcomed the change, while others were more circumspect or ducked the issue for a few days. The early Iowa Republican reaction to the court ruling will sound more pathetic and cowardly with each passing year.

At this point I can't see any realistic path for conservatives to undo marriage equality. Even if Republicans held their Iowa House majority and gained control of the state Senate (which I consider unlikely), passing a constitutional amendment in both chambers in two separately elected legislatures would be a heavy lift. Last year and this year, an amendment to ban same-sex marriages didn't even make it through committee in the Republican-controlled Iowa House.

Bob Vander Plaats spent most of 2009 and 2010 trying to take rights away from same-sex couples and force justices off the Iowa Supreme Court. Five years ago today, he was the front-runner in the GOP race for governor. Now he's out hawking a book. His standing among Iowa Republicans has fallen so far that he is essentially invisible in the Congressional campaign of Robert Cramer, a guy who donated $30,000 to "Team Vander Plaats" during the 2010 election cycle.

Somehow my hetero union has survived five years of sharing rights with Iowa's LGBT couples. And it's not just my marriage soldiering on: the latest statistics show Iowa's divorce rate at its lowest point since 1968. Several factors account for the trend, including the high cost of divorce and more couples delaying or forgoing marriage. Regardless, it's nice to see the divorce rate falling, because if the trend were going the other way you can be sure self-styled "marriage defenders" would blame the "homosexual agenda," among other things.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. Highlights from the latest Des Moines Register poll findings on gay marriage are after the jump.

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Political April Fool's thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 09:51:40 AM CDT

I've never been a fan of April Fool's pranks or the April Fool's Day fake news genre, but my friend Mark Lambert gave me permission to share this story. It made me smile. He was an administrative law judge at the time in the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. Like many state employees, he worked in the Wallace Building near the Capitol.

In 2010, Mark took State of Iowa letterhead and added "Iowa Civil Rights Commission" in a realistic-looking font on it. He got to work before 6 am and hung signs on all the bathroom doors in the Wallace Building saying that due to a new interpretation by the Iowa Supreme Court, gender-specific restrooms were considered a violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act and the Iowa Constitution, and that all restrooms would now be unisex. "We realize this will take some time before you feel comfortable, but we are confident you will get used to it. In the mean time, please be considerate of your co-workers." He figured some people would fall for the joke, because this was only a year after the Iowa Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien decision on marriage.

All of the signs were taken down by 8:30 am, but still--a pretty good April Fool's prank.

Share any relevant memories in this thread. I wonder which Iowa candidates and elected officials will circulate a fake press release or pull off some publicity stunt today.

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Iowa Senate district 45: Joe Seng has a primary challenger, Mark Riley

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 15:22:00 PM CDT

If any Iowa Democrat deserves a primary challenge, it's three-term State Senator Joe Seng. Although the Davenport-based veterinarian represents one of the Democrats' safest urban districts, Seng is anti-choice and supported Republican calls for a vote against marriage equality in 2010. As chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, he has helped pass several bills that are good for industrial agriculture but bad for the environment, especially clean water. In addition, Seng himself challenged three-term U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack in the IA-02 Democratic primary two years ago, so he couldn't claim the moral high ground against a primary challenger for his state Senate seat.

I was excited to see yesterday that another Democratic candidate, Mark Riley, had filed papers to run in Senate district 45. When I realized Riley was Seng's Republican opponent in 2010 and ran an independent campaign against Iowa House Democrat Cindy Winckler in 2012, I became disappointed. Was he just a fake like the "Democrat" who ran against State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad in 2010?

I sought comment from Riley about why he was running as a Democrat in Iowa Senate district 45, having campaigned as a Republican in the same district a few years ago. I've posted his response after the jump. You be the judge. Riley would have my serious consideration if I lived on the west side of Davenport.  

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Mid-week open thread: Equal rights edition

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 07:05:00 AM CST

Here's an open thread for discussing anything on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers. Most Iowans I've run into lately are a little down about the seemingly endless cold winter. (Single-digit highs in the Des Moines area today, and the 10-day forecast shows only one day that might reach the 30s.) How about some good news?

Dominoes continue to fall in the march toward equal rights for LGBT Americans. Yesterday Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed private businesses to discriminate against gay customers because of their religious beliefs. I posted an excerpt from her veto statement below. Before Brewer announced her decision, both of Arizona's Republican U.S. senators, Jeff Flake and John McCain, spoke out against the legislation. Even a few years ago I would not have expected conservative Republicans to take a stand against this kind of discrimination.  

Meanwhile, last summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a key provision of the Defense Against Marriage Act is influencing other judicial rulings. Yesterday a federal judge struck down the Texas ban on same-sex marriage, only two weeks after a similar ruling came down in Virginia. Federal judges struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban in December and Oklahoma's in January. Eventually the U.S. Supreme Court will need to weigh in on a question it ducked last summer: whether state constitutional amendments on marriage violate equal protection rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

And now for something completely different: "74,476 Reasons You Should Always Get The Bigger Pizza." Granted, the author doesn't take into account any lingering New Year's resolutions.

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More good news for legally married same-sex couples

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 14:45:00 PM CST

The U.S. Department of Justice announced today a new policy to "recognize lawful same-sex marriages as broadly as possible, and to recognize all marriages valid in the jurisdiction where the marriage was celebrated," even if the couple currently resides in a state that does not allow same-sex marriages. You can read the full text of Attorney General Eric Holder's memo here (pdf). Jaywon Choe reported for PBS,

Practically speaking, the decision means that same-sex couples will be given benefits that previously were only extended to heterosexual couples. For federal inmates, this includes spousal visits and the possibility of furloughs in the event of a crisis involving a spouse. Meanwhile in the courtroom, same-sex couples will now be given the right to refuse testimony that might incriminate their spouse, even in states where same-sex marriage is not recognized.

The policy stems from last June's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Windsor case, which struck down key provisions in the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The DOJ memo makes clear that the policy does not apply to domestic partnerships or civil unions--only to the thousands of LGBT couples married in Iowa or one of the other states where marriage equality is the law.

The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury confirmed last summer that legally married same-sex couples will be able to file the same kind of federal tax returns (jointly or separately) as married heterosexual couples.

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Branstad names impeachment advocate to Judicial Nominating Commission

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 08:55:26 AM CST

I knew that Governor Terry Branstad was trying to fill the State Judicial Nominating Commission with conservatives and big Republican donors.

I knew that Branstad liked naming former state legislators to prominent positions, sometimes without considering anyone else for the job, sometimes even when the former lawmaker hadn't asked for the job.

But until yesterday, I never imagined that Branstad would consider a Judicial Nominating Commission an appropriate place for someone who tried to impeach Iowa Supreme Court justices over the Varnum v Brien ruling on marriage.  

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Not your father's Republican primary: Jon Van Wyk vs. Greg Heartsill in Iowa House district 28

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 15:51:00 PM CST

Once upon a time, a few moderate Republicans served in the Iowa legislature. Sometimes they faced primary challenges from the right, because conservatives resented their positions on social issues and their willingness to compromise with statehouse Democrats.

Social moderates are long gone among Iowa House and Senate Republican ranks, but party leaders prefer not to talk about, let alone deliver on, some of the key priorities for hard-liners. That leads to occasional infighting between mainstream Republican lawmakers and those who want to rock the boat.

One of the proud non-compromisers, Tom Shaw, just announced plans to retire from the Iowa House. His comrade-in-arms Greg Heartsill will face at least one Republican primary challenger in Iowa House district 28.

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Mid-week open thread, with good news from Illinois

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 21:11:08 PM CST

Sitting at Abraham Lincoln's desk, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a marriage equality bill into law today. That makes 15 states plus Washington, DC where couples can marry regardless of sexual orientation. In the order where same-sex marriage was legalized, either by courts, legislation, or referendum: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, the District of Columbia, New York, Washington, Maine, Maryland, California, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Illinois.

More good news out of our neighbor to the east:

Chad Pregracke, an Illinois man who has dedicated his life to cleaning the Mississippi River and other U.S. waterways, was named the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year on Tuesday night.

Pregracke organizes community cleanups across the country through his nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters. About 70,000 volunteers have pitched in, helping Pregracke collect more than 7 million pounds of trash in the past 15 years.

Pregracke has inspired many Iowans involved in river restoration and water quality work. He grew up in East Moline, just over the Mississippi.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

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IA-01: Two celebrity endorsements for Anesa Kajtazovic

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 13:25:00 PM CDT

During the past ten days, two people who are well-known to Iowa Democrats have endorsed Anesa Kajtazovic for Congress: Tim Dwight and Zach Wahls. A former Iowa Hawkeyes star and successful professional football player, Dwight now runs the solar energy company iPowerCorp and is president of the Iowa Solar/Small Wind Energy Trade Association. In recent years he has lobbied state legislators to help make Iowa a leader in "distributed generation, which is solar, small wind and also solar thermal." Distributed generation holds many economic benefits beyond what Iowa gains through large wind farms.

Since her first election to the Iowa House in 2010, Kajtazovic has recognized the huge potential for solar energy in Iowa. She has supported several bills to promote solar power, including new state tax credits enacted in 2012. That law reduced the payback time for small solar power systems installed in Iowa homes and businesses. Dwight described her as "a true champion for solar." After the jump I've posted the press releases announcing support from Dwight and Wahls and a video of Kajtazovic discussing her work on solar power.

Wahls gained national fame as an advocate for marriage equality when a video of his comments to an Iowa House hearing went viral in 2011. He was a speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. John Deeth was to my knowledge the first to report that Wahls was supporting Kajtazovic for Congress. On Monday, her campaign confirmed that endorsement.

Underscoring the candidate's appeal to a younger generation, Dwight spoke of Kajtazovic's "fresh ideas," while Wahls said "it's time for fresh, new voices" in Washington. Kajtazovic is the only candidate under age 50 in the five-way Democratic primary to represent IA-01. In the press release announcing Wahls' support, she condemned former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum's views on equality for LGBT couples. Santorum recently endorsed State Representative Walt Rogers, a Republican candidate in IA-01. Whatever other issues may divide Democratic voters in this district, you can bet that all of them dislike Santorum's politics.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Weekend open thread, with recent Iowa Supreme Court news

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 13:30:00 PM CDT

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

I've been catching up on news related to the Iowa Supreme Court. On October 9 the seven justices heard oral arguments in two cases at the Fort Dodge Middle School auditorium. One of those cases was Iowa Farm Bureau, et al. v. Environmental Protection Commission, et al. Interest groups representing major water polluting industries in Iowa are seeking to overturn one of the most significant water quality protection rules this state has adopted during my lifetime. In March 2012, a Polk County District Court judge declared the legal challenge to the rule "without merit." The Farm Bureau quickly signaled its intent to appeal, claiming the case was about "good government" rather than water quality.

The Iowa Supreme Court will likely announce a decision in this case sometime early next year. Ryan Koopmans noted recently at the On Brief blog that the justices have cleared what used to be a major backlog and are running an efficient operation.

On average, the Court issues a decision 112 days after final submission (which is usually triggered by oral argument).  But even that figure understates the Court's efficiency.   There is a small subset of cases that, because of their complexity or other unusual factors, skew the average, which means that the median might give a better picture of the Court's timeliness.  That's 87 days between final submission and decision, which is relatively fast.

The Court is even faster when the situation calls for it.  In February, the Court issued a decision in In re Whalen-a case about a burial location- just 29 days after the scheduled oral argument.  And the  Court has made it a priority to respond quickly to certified questions from federal district courts.

Incidentally, last week's session in Fort Dodge is part of the Iowa Supreme Court's relatively new commitment to hear cases outside its chambers in Des Moines periodically. The effort was one response to the 2010 retention elections, the first ever in which voters chose not to retain Iowa Supreme Court justices. University of Iowa College of Law professor Todd Pettys cited those hearings around the state as one among many reasons that the 2012 vote to retain Justice David Wiggins turned out differently from the elections two years earlier. You can download Pettys' paper for the Journal of Appellate Practice and Process here. While it's probably healthy for the justices to work in other cities from time to time, I think the other factors Pettys discusses were far more important in 2012 than the court's statewide tour.

At the end of Pettys' paper, he discusses the future for the Varnum v Brien ruling, which cleared the way for same-sex marriages in Iowa in 2009. Commenting on a somewhat surprising "special concurrence" by Justices Edward Mansfield and Thomas Waterman in a different case related to marriage equality, Pettys suggests that perhaps "the Iowa Supreme Court is no longer of one mind about whether the Varnum Court was right to hold that the Iowa Constitution grants same-sex couples the right to marry."

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Weekend open thread: Mind-blowing edition (w/poll)

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 10:50:00 AM CDT

The latest episode to divide Iowa Republicans is a warning from Republican Party of Iowa officials in response to planned traffic safety checkpoints in Polk County. After the jump I've posted more details on that story.

Having grown up during the 1980s, when "card-carrying member of the ACLU" was a term of abuse Republicans used against liberals, I'm still floored whenever Republicans actually care about potential encroachment on civil liberties by law enforcement officials.

That's far from the most mind-blowing political reality of our day, though. Just for fun, at the end of this post I put up a non-scientific poll for any Bleeding Heartland readers, but especially those "of a certain age." Think back 20 to 25 years and ask yourself, what reality of 2013 would be most shocking?

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

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Same-sex couples married in Iowa to get equal federal tax treatment

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 16:56:00 PM CDT

The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury confirmed today that legally married same-sex couples will be able to file the same kind of federal tax returns (jointly or separately) as married heterosexual couples. The move was widely anticipated after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act in June, but Treasury Secretary Jack Lew cleared up one important question today:

"Today's ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement.

"This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change."

In other words, federal authorities will recognize the marriages of same-sex couples wed in Iowa since April 2009, even if those couples now live in a state that does not recognize their marriage. Donna Red Wing, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group One Iowa, released a statement hailing "a good day for same-sex couples and their families" and thanking the administration for "moving quickly and judiciously."

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Cross Matt Strawn off the list of potential Iowa Republican candidates

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 09:34:00 AM CDT

Former Republican Party of Iowa Chair Matt Strawn's name came up earlier this year as a possible candidate for U.S. Senate, but don't expect him to be a serious contender for any statewide office in the foreseeable future. News broke yesterday that the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois has hired the firm Strawn and two prominent Illinois Republicans founded earlier this year to to lobby GOP lawmakers in Illinois to support a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. This spring, Illinois appeared to be on the brink of adopting a marriage equality bill, but supporters never brought it up for a vote in the state House. They plan to try again when the legislature returns in November. Although Strawn's partner Pat Brady, the former Illinois GOP chair, will do the heavy lifting on this job, social conservatives who dominate the Iowa GOP's activist base will surely hold a grudge against Strawn.

I got a kick out of Craig Robinson's rewriting of history yesterday, saying Strawn "abdicated" the Iowa GOP chairmanship, but that "some Iowa Republicans still consider him to have been a good chairman, especially in comparison to his successor." Robinson was the loudest voice demanding Strawn's resignation in the wake of the 2012 Iowa caucus vote-counting fiasco. Be careful what you wish for.

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Ethics board to investigate National Organization for Marriage spending on retention votes

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 16:40:00 PM CDT

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board voted unanimously on August 8 to investigate the National Organization for Marriage's spending in Iowa during the 2010 and 2012 judicial retention elections. Details are after the jump.

UPDATE: Added details below on the National Organization for Marriage demanding that the ethics board's executive director recuse herself from any investigation.

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More highlights from the latest Quinnipiac Iowa poll

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 07:10:00 AM CDT

Quinnipiac University released more results from its latest Iowa poll yesterday. I've posted some thoughts below regarding the responses on next year's U.S. Senate race, the 2016 presidential election, and marriage equality in Iowa.
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Iowa reaction to Supreme Court striking down DOMA (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 26, 2013 at 10:50:47 AM CDT

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The ruling means that legally married gay and lesbian couples in Iowa and elsewhere will be entitled to equal treatment under federal law. More than 200 Congressional Democrats, including Senator Tom Harkin and Representatives Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack, signed an amicus curiae brief urging justices to strike down the key provision of the DOMA, adopted in 1996 with overwhelming bipartisan support.  

In a separate case, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that backers of California's Proposition 8 did not have standing to appeal a lower-court ruling striking down that ballot initiative. The decision means that LGBT couples will be allowed to marry in California. It does not affect other states' statutory or constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Braley and Loebsack were among scores of Congressional Democrats who recently posed for the "NoH8" campaign supporting marriage equality and opposing Prop 8.

Excerpts from the DOMA decision and Iowa reaction to today's rulings are after the jump. I will update this post as needed. At this writing, most of the Congressional delegation has not publicly commented on the Supreme Court decisions.

I also enclose below Democratic State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad's reaction to yesterday's disgraceful 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act.

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- Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
- Iowa Democratic Party
- Iowa House Democrats
- Iowa Senate Democrats
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