FOR IMMEDIATE 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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