IA-04: Don't be so sure the latest uproar will hurt Steve King

When U.S. Representative Steve King thinks out loud, national headlines often follow.

The Des Moines Register’s Robin Opsahl was first to report on King’s musings at the August 14 Westside Conservative Club breakfast in Urbandale.

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” […]

“Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages taken place and whatever happened to culture after society? I know I can’t certify that I’m not a part of a product of that.”

To many, the comments seem indefensible. But I suspect many conservative Republicans in Iowa approve of King’s uncompromising stance on abortion, even if they don’t like how he talked about the issue.

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IA-04: Bob Vander Plaats adds to bad news piling up for Steve King (updated)

One of Iowa’s most prominent social conservatives has compounded U.S. Representative Steve King’s political problems.

Bob Vander Plaats worked closely with King during the 2010 campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices, and the two were among Senator Ted Cruz’s top Iowa supporters before the 2016 caucuses.

But Vander Plaats just endorsed King’s leading GOP primary rival.

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A response to the FAMiLY Leader's call for dialogue

Heather Marie Dunn is a transgender Iowan and “recovering right-winger” in Polk County. -promoted by Laura Belin

To the FAMiLY Leader,

This open letter was inspired by your call for dialogue. As a fellow evangelical Christian who is a transgender woman, I welcome dialogue. I commend Bob Vander Plaats for being willing to sit down with the late Donna Red Wing for coffee.

However, here is why you may be running into resistance from the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. I can’t speak for them, but I suspect most progressives are hesitant to dialogue with you for the following reasons.

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Faith and opportunity

Ira Lacher argues that Democratic presidential contenders should accept an invitation from a leading social conservative in Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

From the moment the first Pilgrim set foot in the New World, the American cloth has been sewn by those motivated by religion. Our uniqueness results largely in part from those who brought their religious traditions with them, and by their descendants, who tailored those traditions to acclimate to their inherited country.

The Southern black church gave birth to the civil rights movement; marchers at Selma included Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Jesuit priests Daniel and Philip Berrigan helped define the Vietnam peace movement. Muslims Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Muhammad Ali rose to the top of their sports. Thousands of others have used their faith traditions to make significant impacts on every aspect of American life. As President Barack Obama told PBS in its 2010 series God in America, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers.”

But that ecumenism has been sundered. Since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 declared abortion to be a right, evangelical Christians, anointing themselves guardians of faith, have been determined to make the word of the Lord, as they interpret it, the law of the land.

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10 years of marriage equality in Iowa

Ten years ago today, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously held in Varnum v Brien that the state’s Defense of Marriage Act “violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution.”

Justice Mark Cady wrote the opinion, which cost three of his colleagues (Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice David Baker, and Justice Michael Streit) their jobs in the 2010 judicial retention elections. Assigned the task of writing by random drawing, Cady “strongly believed the court should speak in one voice” on such a controversial matter, Tom Witosky and Marc Hansen wrote in their 2015 book Equal Before the Law: How Iowa Led Americans to Marriage Equality. In fact, Cady “was convinced there was no room for even a concurring opinion–an opinion in agreement with the court’s conclusion but not its reasoning.” (pp. 134-5)

Thousands of Iowans have enjoyed a better quality of life since our state became the third to give LGBTQ couples the right to marry. Lambda Legal, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of six Iowa couples, has posted a timeline of key events in the case. State Senator Zach Wahls wrote today about the Supreme Court decision’s impact on his family.

I wanted to mark this day by sharing highlights from Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of that historic event. My deepest condolences go out to the friends and relatives of former Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht. The Iowa Judicial Branch announced today that Hecht has died. He stepped down from the bench in December 2018 while battling melanoma. Of the seven justices who joined the Varnum opinion, only Cady, Brent Appel, and David Wiggins still serve on the high court.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2018 guest authors

The Bleeding Heartland community lost a valued voice this year when Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese passed away in October. As Mike Carberry noted in his obituary for his good friend, Kurt had a tremendous amount on his plate, and I was grateful whenever he found time to share his commentaries in this space. His final post here was a thought-provoking look at his own upbringing and past intimate relationships in light of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Friese was among more than 100 guest authors who produced 202 Bleeding Heartland posts during 2018, shattering the previous record of 164 posts by 83 writers in 2017. I’m thankful for every piece and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, commentary about major news events, personal reflections on events from many years ago, and stories in photographs or cartoons. Some posts were short, while others developed an argument over thousands of words. Pieces by Allison Engel, Randy Richardson, Tyler Higgs, and Matt Chapman were among the most-viewed at the site this year. In the full list, I’ve noted other posts that were especially popular.

Please get in touch if you would like to write about any political topic of local, statewide, or national importance during 2019. If you do not already have a Bleeding Heartland account, I can set one up for you and explain the process. There is no standard format or word limit. I copy-edit for clarity but don’t micromanage how authors express themselves. Although most authors write under their real names, pseudonyms are allowed here and may be advisable for those writing about sensitive topics or whose day job does not permit expressing political views. I ask authors to disclose potential conflicts of interest, such as being are a paid staffer, consultant, or lobbyist promoting any candidate or policy they discuss here.

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