Archive for March, 2012

from The Des Moines Register.

Recently, I had an opportunity to introduce a unique plank at my Republican county convention. At the Humboldt County Republican Convention, I introduced pro-equality language in support of same-sex civil marriage in Iowa.

As a Republican, I am very committed to ensuring same-sex couples have equal rights. After following online the Iowa Republicans for Freedom organization, which supports same-sex marriage, I was more than enthusiastic to help the cause.

Although the plank was unsuccessful, it provided encouragement. It is true that there are a number of Republicans who are vehemently opposed to our state’s law on civil marriage, usually deferring to ill-informed conceptions and debatable biblical interpretations. However, it was astounding to me that I did not stand alone on voting “aye” for the plank, and that many individuals abstained from the vote. This is perhaps an indication that more Republicans in Iowa support same-sex civil marriage than meets the eye.

As Republicans, we must become realistic about the truth of same-sex marriage and our position. There is no conceivable way that same-sex marriage is detrimental to the family unit or society. Without political motivation, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled three years ago that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional. As conservatives, we should praise that decision as it was a step toward limiting government intrusion in our lives.

I encourage all of my fellow Republicans to join Iowa Republicans for Freedom in protecting our liberties and to not be intimidated by people within the party who are not supportive of the cause. I challenge all elected officials to muster their moral courage and defend the freedom of all Iowa families.

— Ryan Mehaffy, Humboldt

Read the article from The Des Moines Register.

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from The New York Times.

New Hampshire lawmakers during testimony on gay marriage.
Jim Cole/Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. — An attempt to repeal New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage law failed on Wednesday in the House of Representatives, with members of the Republican-dominated chamber voting 211-116 to kill the bill.

Some opponents of repeal cited the state’s

“Live Free or Die” motto, saying they were uncomfortable revoking any right that had already been granted. Others did not see the point of embracing the repeal when Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, had vowed to veto it.

Had the repeal succeeded in both chambers, New Hampshire would have been the first state in which a legislature reversed itself on the issue of same-sex marriage. National gay-rights groups had invested heavily in fighting the bill, focusing on lawmakers with libertarian leanings.

With Republicans outnumbering Democrats by three to one in the House, which has approved a number of socially conservative bills this session, proponents of same-sex marriage feared early on that there was little chance of preserving the law.

“Every step forward is a sign of momentum,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, a group that lobbies for same-sex marriage nationwide. “The fact that we got two-thirds of the vote, in one of the most heavily Republican legislatures in the country, will make a serious impact.”

…He added that a new political action committee, New Hampshire Republicans for Freedom and Equality, has pledged $100,000 to support Republican lawmakers who favor keeping the same-sex marriage law. The National Organization for Marriage has pledged to spend $250,000 to help lawmakers and candidates who support repeal.

…After applauding the vote from the House gallery, Neil Blair and Jeffry Burr of Franconia, who married minutes after same-sex marriage became legal here on Jan. 1, 2010, said they remained apprehensive.

“We’re relieved for now,” Mr. Burr said. “But in New Hampshire, this can keep coming up every legislative session, so we’re obviously concerned about having to battle this again and again.”

Still, Mr. Burr said he sensed that most lawmakers were ready to move on.

“Irrespective of their party line or even their personal beliefs on the issue,” he said, “they’re tired of it. They’re saying, ‘Let’s focus on things that are more pressing and more important.’ ”

Read the full article from The New York Times.

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Press Release
March 20, 2012

Coalition of Marriage Equality Supporters Respond to the Family Leader “Marriage Rally”
One Iowa, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, AFSCME Iowa Council 61, Senator Matt McCoy, and Iowa Republicans for Freedom speak out against a marriage ban

Des Moines, IA—This morning, anti-equality groups The Family Leader and The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) stormed the state capitol with roughly 20,000 unverified petition signatures to intimidate Iowa legislators into passing a marriage amendment that would ban marriage for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. In response, One Iowa, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, AFSCME, Senator Matt McCoy and Solon couple Tammy Steinwandt and Melanie Muth held a press conference in support of marriage equality.

“With growing support for equality nationwide, One Iowa is committed to having meaningful conversations with Iowans in every corner of the state about why marriage matters,” said Calla Rongerude, One Iowa Interim Executive Director. “Marriage isn’t about signatures or politics or cameras and sound bites. Marriage is about love and commitment. Today, we are working to ensure that Iowa families don’t get lost in the noise of this rally. Iowa families deserve better than a sideshow.”

The 2009 Iowa Supreme Court case of Varnum v Brien unanimously ruled that gay and lesbian couples could no longer be excluded from the freedom to marry. Since then, anti-equality advocates in the state–most notably, The Family Leader–have worked to pass a harmful ban on marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Bob Vander Plaats, the President and CEO of The Family Leader, has been an outspoken opponent of marriage equality and claims to be the “kingmaker” for Republican candidates in spite of three unsuccessful bids for Governor.

“The Family Leader claims to speak for Iowa conservatives and for Christians. But as a conservative, I can tell you that I value small government and individual freedom, which includes the freedom to marry for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples,” said former state Senator Jeff Angelo, Founder of Iowa Republicans for Freedom. “As an evangelical Christian, I believe in loving my neighbor and valuing the dignity of all Iowans. My hope is that all families will be treated the way I would want to be treated.”

“The Family Leader continues to waste valuable time with stunts like these. They have stormed the capitol with only 20,000 signatures in a grand attempt to bully us into passing a marriage ban,” said Senator Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines. “These scare tactics will no longer work. We know that Iowans want a stronger economy, more jobs, and better schools, not a harmful marriage ban that will hurt Iowa families. I will work with my fellow legislators to focus on the issues that matter most to Iowans.”

This so-called “marriage rally” was organized by The Family Leader and was bankrolled by The National Organization for Marriage (NOM). NOM has traveled to Iowa frequently in order to infuse their agenda into Iowa politics. In 2010, after NOM flooded the state with out-of-state money to influence the judicial retention vote, Brian Brown, President of NOM said that “his group’s focus is now to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Iowa to give voters a chance to overturn the court’s decision and redefine marriage as being between one man and one woman.”

“AFSCME Iowa Council 61 will continue to be among the coalition of supporters from across the state. We must work together to fight any attacks on equality. It is time to raise our voices and let our legislators know in no uncertain terms, that we will not stand by and allow such an attack to become successful,” said Danny Homan, President, AFSCME Iowa Council 61. “Let’s put these anti-equality groups and supporters on notice: We will do everything in our power to keep you from turning back the pages of equality and freedom for all Iowans.”

In response to the rally, a coalition of marriage equality supporters gathered for a press conference to voice their opposition to a marriage ban and to the shameless political tactics of The Family Leader and NOM.

“It is a privilege for the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa to represent the many faith leaders and people of different faiths from across our state that support ALL Iowa families, including those headed by gay and lesbian couples,” said Reverend Matt Mardis-Lecroy of The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa. “Of course, I am one of those faith leaders. I am a Christian minister who supports marriage equality in the state of Iowa and the Family Leader does not speak for all people of faith. I do not support marriage equality in spite of my Christian faith; I support marriage equality because of my Christian faith.”

“Iowa is a wonderful place to live. We are proud and blessed to live here. We are especially proud that we live in a state that values all families,” said Tammy Steinwandt of Solon, Iowa. She and her wife Melanie Muth have been married for three years. “Every day that we have been married is counted as a blessing! Marriage equality is truly about people not all of this political rhetoric. We stand proud to be who we are and we celebrate this state where we are free to love and marry our soul-mate and best friend.”

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from The Gazette.

I am a proud evangelical Christian Republican and a native of Mississippi. I moved to Iowa and fell in love with the political process here during caucus season.

I love how candidates crisscross the state and make a point to engage with voters. I love that voters can sit down with candidates and ask them the questions that we the voters — not the media — want to present.

2011 was a big year for Republicans. We saw leaders emerge and saw candidates drop out. We saw job creation and education being seriously debated, and I felt that the concerns of the American people were heard — for the most part.

What I didn’t hear much of this year was support for marriage equality from the Republican front-runners. I support marriage for gay and lesbian couples and have been vocal about my support, even when it hasn’t always been the popular thing to do in my party.

I heard a lot of rhetoric about gay and lesbian Americans that didn’t fit with what I know to be true and what many Republicans believe. As an evangelical Christian Republican, I know many people who hold conservative values like equality and freedom, but those voices were lost this year. However, I believe in my heart that things are changing. If it weren’t for the loud voices of a few in our party, I do believe more Republicans would stand up in support of marriage equality.

I didn’t always feel that way and my journey toward full support has been a long and intensive one. One of the things that changed my mind on this issue was my children. I used to watch my kids and wonder why equality is a non-issue with them. They love and support their friends, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, gender or religion.

Then I realized that I was tired of watching adults judge each other while my children could embrace the differences in their friends. After all, that is what being a Christian is all about.

What I learned from the 2012 Republican Caucus was this: If we don’t stand together this year, we will lose. What is our party if not the party of freedom? This is a matter of freedom, and I want people to be free. It’s the American thing to do.

Kathy Potts, of Cedar Rapids, is a new member of the Iowa Republicans for Freedom and its advisory board. She is the former Linn County Republican Party chair and most recently served as the Republican committee chair for the Rick Perry for President campaign.

Read the article from The Gazette.

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from The Des Moines Register.

Kathy Potts stands on the front porch of her Cedar Rapids home where she plans to hang her Perry 2012 barn sign. (CNN)

A former Republican Party chairwoman for Linn County has joined Iowa Republicans for Freedom, the independent GOP group that supports same-sex marriage.

Kathy Potts joined the group’s advisory board today, according to a news release. She has been active in many Republican campaigns, serving most recently as a county chairwoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign in Iowa. She’s also worked on Mitt Romney’s 2008 campaign and has been a member of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women and the National Federation of Republican Women.

“Over the course of my career, I have met many members of the LGBT community and I’ve learned to see people and not labels,” Potts said in a statement. “Supporting small government and individual liberties are the key tenets of the Republican Party and I am excited to begin working with Iowa Republicans for Freedom to encourage support for marriage equality among my fellow Republicans.”

Iowa Republicans for Freedom was formed by former state Sen. Jeff Angelo, a one-time opponent of same-sex marriage who changed his position and founded the group last year.

The group supports “marriage equality” based on the conservative principal of individual liberty, and believes that “civil marriage is a right that should not be denied to same-sex couples.”

“The goal of Iowa Republicans for Freedom is to increase support for marriage equality among Republicans in the state, and with the support of this influential and visible GOP leader, we know that we can reach more Republicans who believe in small government and equality for all,” Angelo said in a statement accompanying Potts’ announcement.

Read the article from The Des Moines Register.

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March 8, 2012

Sandi Jacques

Jeff Angelo

Former GOP County Chair Joins Iowa Republicans for Freedom Advisory Board

Kathy Potts joins board to build statewide Republican support for marriage equality

Des Moines, IA—Today, Iowa Republicans for Freedom (IRFF) announced a new addition to the advisory board. Former GOP Party Chair Kathy Potts will join Republicans throughout the state including former Iowa State Senator Jeff Angelo and City Councilmembers from Grimes, Davenport, and Council Bluffs. She brings with her years of experience with the Republican Party serving as a party leader and campaign volunteer.

“We are proud and honored to have Kathy join our team,” said Senator Jeff Angelo, IRFF chair. “The goal of Iowa Republicans for Freedom is to increase support for marriage equality among Republicans in the state, and with the support of this influential and visible GOP leader, we know that we can reach more Republicans who believe in small government and equality for all.”

Kathy Potts is a former Linn County Republican Chair and has been an active volunteer on numerous Republican campaigns, most recently serving as County Chair for the Rick Perry campaign for President. She also served on the Linn County Leadership Team for Mitt Romney in the 2008 campaign. She has been active in the Iowa Federation of Republican Women and the National Federation of Republican Women.

“Over the course of my career, I have met many members of the LGBT community and I’ve learned to see people and not labels,” said Kathy Potts. “Supporting small government and individual liberties are the
key tenets of the Republican Party and I am excited to begin working with Iowa Republicans for Freedom to encourage support for marriage equality among my fellow Republicans.”

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Washington State Republican Rep. Maureen Walsh addresses the house during debate on a bill that she co-sponsored that would legalize gay marriage in the state, in Olympia in this February 8, 2012 file photo. Credit: Reuters/Robert Sorbo/Files

(Reuters) – The personal experiences of friends, family or constituents persuaded a crucial group of Republican lawmakers to vote for same-sex marriage in three state legislatures last month, in some cases tipping the balance in favor of legalizing gay matrimony.

Among them were two Washington state legislators with gay relatives, a New Jersey state senator who changed her mind while working on an anti-bullying measure and a Maryland state House delegate inspired by a gay couple coping with cancer.

“All politics is personal,” Republican Washington state Senator Steve Litzow said in explaining his vote to support gay marriage legislation.

“If people have a personal connection, know ‘this is somebody I love and care about,’ I think that makes a huge difference,” said Litzow, one of four Republican state senators who helped the measure pass in Washington state by a vote of 28 to 21.

Gay marriage is one of the defining “culture wars” issues dividing the United States during the 2012 presidential election year. Supporters see it as a question of civil rights and equality for gay Americans. Opponents see it as morally wrong and an attack on traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

At the state level, where there has been surprising momentum for same sex marriage this year, some lawmakers put the ideological wars aside and responded to the personal pleas.

They did so at great political risk. Most of the Republican converts were met with impassioned resistance from fellow members of their party. Activists pledged to defeat them in the next election cycle, and in some cases constituents confronted them angrily.

But in separate interviews, each told Reuters that they were willing to lose their elected office in order to stand up for what they believed was a basic civil rights issue.

During an emotional debate on the floor of the Washington state House of Representatives in early February, Republican Maureen Walsh spoke of being frustrated that her lesbian daughter could not legally marry her girlfriend.

“She’s met the person that she loves very much and someday, by God, I want to throw a wedding for that kid,” Walsh told her fellow legislators on the floor of the House. “I hope she won’t feel like a second-class citizen.”

Read the full article from Reuters.

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