Archive for August, 2012

Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego, California speaks out about his support for marriage for gays and lesbians, and encourages others in his party to do the same.

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Watch original video of Jerry Sanders announcing his support for marriage equality:

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Last Sunday’s column on Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker’s call to oust another Iowa Supreme Court justice in the name of cynical same-sex marriage politics drew a little mail.

…But one email stood out. It was from Cedar Rapids attorney William McCartan, who took issue with Spiker’s politicized declaration of anti-judicial independence and wrote a letter to the GOP State Central Committee.

“I write to you as a lifelong Republican. I was stunned to see that our party had today issued an official call for the removal of a justice of the Iowa Supreme Court based on a disagreement with one of the Court’s rulings. Our courts protect our freedom from the encroachment of government power. As Republicans, I thought we stood FOR that proposition — not against it,” McCartan wrote, adding “shameful” and “radical” for good measure.

Next morning, he received the first response from committee member Jamie Johnson of Stratford. He insisted that the court, in striking down Iowa’s ban on same-sex marriages, assumed power “that no human government can possess.”

…McCartan wasn’t impressed.

“Two days later, I officially changed my party registration to ‘No Party,’ ” McCartan told me in his email. That’s too bad, because one of our only two major parties just got more extreme, less reasonable.

…Responsible, truly conservative GOP leaders need to stand up and say enough.

Read the full article from The Gazette, written by Todd Dorman.

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August 10, 2012

“This Saturday, the Family Leader is bringing in political candidates under the premise of holding a ‘summit’ that is both Christian and Republican.

The real purpose of this meeting is to formulate strategy that demeans many Iowa families with the goal of acquiring political power. As an Evangelical Christian, I am disturbed that this event is promoted as a means of putting my faith into practice. This is a political event and it does not speak for me and countless other Iowans who are called to unify people through love, not proactively divide our neighbors against each other.

Since founding Iowa Republicans for Freedom over a year ago, we have had conversations about the importance of marriage equality with Christians from across the state, and we have met conservatives who believe in both limited government and individual liberties. It is clear that one can be conservative and embrace fairness and equality. These are not mutually exclusive qualities.

I call upon my fellow Republicans and my fellow Christians to serve as an example of fairness and loving thy neighbor. Together, we can show our strength.”

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A majority of Germans are in favor of establishing legal parity between civil unions and heterosexual marriage. So too are most of the parties represented in the German parliament. But when it comes to finally granting gay couples the same tax advantages associated with marriage, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and, in particular, its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have been adamantly opposed.

That, though, may now be changing. On Monday, a group of 13 CDU lawmakers released a statement demanding that the German parliament take the initiative in granting gay couples in a civil union the same joint-filing tax benefits enjoyed by married couples

And Monday evening, the group received powerful support. German Family Minister Kristina Schröder told the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that the push comes “at the right time, because in lesbian and gay life partnerships, people take lasting responsibility for one another and thus they live according to conservative values.”

Monday’s statement is not the first time that German parliamentarians have made a motion to eliminate the tax policy disadvantages facing civil unions relative to heterosexual married couples. Several political parties, primarily from the center-left but also including the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), Merkel’s junior coalition partners, have in recent years come out in favor of eliminating tax policy discrepancies between heterosexual and homosexual couples. Such motions have largely failed to gain momentum due to opposition within the ranks of Merkel’s conservatives.

Read the full article from Spiegel Online.

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When Democrats announced that their 2012 platform would include a historic first — gay marriage written in as a plank — the reaction from mainstream Republicans was near silence.

There were no statements blasted out from Mitt Romney’s campaign. The same was true for the Republican National Committee. Romney has yet to address the fact.

The pushback came largely from social conservatives and evangelicals, who pledged to make same-sex unions an issue going forward and insisted the stand will hurt Democrats.

But the comparative quiet from party leaders would have been unimaginable even four years ago, when public opinion hadn’t yet shifted so rapidly on a signature social issue. And it marks a dramatic change among some of the top Republican donors and opinion-makers, who are supporting same-sex marriage in state-based gay legislative and legal fights, even as the official GOP platform will remain centered on traditional marriage.

“Most Republican Party leaders seem to have lost the stomach for this fight,” said Dan Schnur of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. “Some of that results (from) the number of large-scale donors who support same-sex marriage, some of it’s a result in an increasing number of party leaders who support same-sex marriage, and a lot of it is public opinion polling which shows a shift in the way voters feel about same-sex marriage,” he added.

It is, Schnur said, “still an issue that motivates the party base, but it motivates the Democratic base, too.”

It was just eight years ago that Republicans, looking to turn out their base, put gay marriage bans on ballots in key states. The measure in Ohio is widely credited with boosting turnout that benefited President George W. Bush’s reelection effort.

And it was just three years ago that a Maine law allowing same-sex marriage was repealed by voters.

But in recent years, polling and ballot initiatives have shown the American public coming closer to a rough consensus on the issue.

In a Pew Poll released last week, the Democratic base has moved significantly on the issue since President Barack Obama announced his support of same-sex marriage, with 65 percent now backing it — making it an easy call for the Democratic convention. Among Republicans, Pew showed less movement, with 70 percent opposed to gay marriage. But equally significant was the figure showing 51 percent of independents supporting gay marriage, along with 48 percent of voters overall, compared to 44 percent against.

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DES MOINES — Gay marriage dominated Iowa political talk Wednesday sparked by state GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker’s call to Republicans to oust Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins in November.

…Spiker announced the recall effort in an email Wednesday that said, “Just as Iowans successfully showed in 2010, it is again time to put a check on this power and reign in an activist judge from his position of misused authority … This is the only chance voters have to make their voice heard and we must take the opportunity to remove Justice David Wiggins from his post and show him his arrogance and disregard for the law does indeed have consequences.”

In a statement Wednesday, Wiggins said he stood behind all of his decisions on the court.

“Our system is built on checks and balances between independent branches of government. Two of the branches are designed to be political. It is unfortunate that Mr. Spiker apparently thinks that all three branches should be political,” he said. “I have always viewed the role of the judiciary as limited, and I am proud of my work in writing opinions and helping resolve the issues that are brought before the court.”

In November 2010, voters removed three sitting Iowa Supreme Court justices who had joined the unanimous opinion that legalized same-sex marriage in the state by voting “no” for their retention on the ballot. That effort was largely organized by the Family Leader, a conservative Christian group headed by Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats. Wiggins is the only judge who took part in the opinion who is up for retention this November.

…“I find it a little disappointing that this is what the state party wants to focus on,” said Josh Byrnes, a Republican state representative from Osage.

Byrnes said his views on same sex marriage — he does not oppose it — changed after he found out that a friend from high school married a same-sex partner and adopted children.

“He and his partner have been great parents, probably better than a lot of others out there,” Byrnes said. “My phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook about same-sex marriage. Look, I respect their opinions on it, but the constituents I talk to want to talk about education and the economy.”

Read the full article from The Gazette

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An Iowa Republican leader on Wednesday urged voters to oust Justice David Wiggins from the Iowa Supreme Court, a call seen by some as a way to boost turnout in November and spur outside groups to spend money in the state.

A “no” vote on Wiggins’ retention would show the justice that “his arrogance and disregard for the law does indeed have consequences” and would “send a strong message to the judicial branch and activist judges who may not fully understand the power that individual voters have within Iowa and our entire nation,” A.J. Spiker, Republican Party of Iowa chairman, said in a release Wednesday.

…Jeff Angelo, a former state senator from Creston and founder of Iowa Republicans for Freedom, said Spiker’s decision injects a new and possibly unwelcome issue into Iowa campaigns — one that is likely to be pushed most strongly by out-of-state advocacy groups.

…Angelo said Republican Party endorsement of an ouster campaign could hurt Republican candidates this fall if it distracts from a potentially winning economic message.

“If you’re a Republican or an independent, you want your candidate talking about the economy,” Angelo said. “If the party attempts to divert from that discussion, you create questions in each individual race: Is this candidate really focused on the economy?”

The Iowa State Bar Association issued a statement chastising Striker and denouncing statements that “show a fundamentally flawed view of the function of the courts and a clear lack of understanding of basic civics.”

Read the full article from The Des Moines Register.

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