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Gov. Terry Branstad has declined comment about two of his judicial nominating appointees who publicly asked questions to judicial applicants about covenant vows and church involvement.

And that silence is unfortunate because it could help maintain the integrity of Iowa’s judicial selection process, critics contend.

“I think it would be wise for the govern to basically say ‘Let’s clearly understand the parameters of what the judicial nominating commission is supposed to be seeking,’” said Jeff Angelo, a former senator who is now chairman of the group Republicans for Freedom, which advocates for individual liberty in marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Angelo continued: “It doesn’t surprise me he declined comment because he’s not a micro manager but at the same time I would guess he hopes this is an isolated incident that sort of resolves itself.”

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California Republicans are abuzz following the Marin County Republican Central Committee’s vote Thursday to support same-sex marriage, becoming the nation’s first Republican county central committee to do so.

“We recognized that we were not providing Marin voters with a viable choice at the polls, and we looked at ways to begin correcting that perception,” Kevin Krick of Fairfax, the committee’s chairman, told my Marin Independent Journal colleague Richard Halstead.

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OUT:

An interview with the conservative marriage equality activist Ken Mehlman on DOMA, the conservative movement, and what’s lies ahead.

Out: Did you anticipate yesterday’s results? Or were you caught by surprise?

Ken Mehlman: I wasn’t surprised by the results, based on the conversations I’d had with Ted Olsen and David Boies fromAFER, which is a board I serve on, and also I’d gotten to know Robbie [Roberta] Kaplan [the lawyer for Edie Windsor]. Although no one can predict the court, it was possible to imagine this result based on the hearings earlier this year. If you readJustice Kennedy’s opinion, and I take him at his word, he looked at that law [DOMA], read the legislative history of the law, and concluded that the law should be overturned. (more…)

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Des Moines Register:

One of several rounds of applause at a One Iowa rally Wednesday night came after the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus led the crowd, holding hands in an expansive circle on the West Terrace of the Capitol Building, in a stirring round of “We Shall of Overcome.”

A few hundred people came out to show support for the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday that overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and a second ruling that could restore gay marriage in California. Many people in the crowd wore red shirts that said “The Right to Love,” and waved rainbow flags.

“We have so much to celebrate today,” said One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing in a speech that lauded Iowa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community’s victories. She also outlined its task for the future, gaining rights for the elder, transgender and HIV positive segments of the community.

Red Wing also praised the activists who came before her. “Let us raise our voices to our friends who never got to see this day,” she said. “We will remember them.”

Among the speakers were state Senator Matt McCoy, ACLU of Iowa Executive Director Ben Stone, and Sue Huber, community organizer for Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians.

Former Senator Jeff Angelo, founder of Iowa Republicans for Freedom, got a few laughs from the crowd when he waved, and said, “This is the segment of the rally I lovingly call, ‘Everybody look at the Republican!’”

In actuality, Angelo said, more Republicans are joining the gay rights movement every day. “The tide is shifting,” he said.

Representing the religious community, Rabbi Steven Edelman-Blank of Tifereth Israel Synagogue in Des Moines led the crowd in the shehechiyanu, a celebratory Hebrew prayer. The crowd responded with “Amen.” Rev. Mark Stringer, pastor of the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines said there is more work to be done. “Let’s keep at it, because I believe a god of justice, equality and love wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Gina DelCorazon, 31, was among the crowd, wearing a t-shirt that read “Legalize Gay.” She and her wife, Ana, 36, moved to Des Moines from California to start a family, and married here one year ago.

When DelCorazon, an Ames native, heard the news this morning, “I cried right away,” she said. “It’s so fantastic to feel more secure now.”

Ana agreed. “It’s huge for our family.”

Read the article from The Des Moines Register.

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Sun Sentinel:

Ginger Eisenrod is Republican through and through and has been for decades. She runs a residential and commercial real estate business in Boca Raton with her husband, just finished a term as president of a political club in Coral Springs, and describes herself as strongly pro-life on abortion.

Eisenrod is also a supporter of same-sex marriage.

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New York Times:

As the Supreme Court considers overturning California’s ban onsame-sex marriage, gay people await a ruling that could change their lives. But the case has already transformed one gay man: Ken Mehlman, the once-closeted Republican operative who orchestrated President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election on a platform that included opposition to same-sex marriage.

Now Mr. Mehlman, a private equity executive in Manhattan, is waging what could be his final campaign: to convince fellow Republicans that gay marriage is consistent with conservative values and good for their party. His about-face, sparked in part by the lawyer who filed the California lawsuit, has sent him on a personal journey to erase what one new friend in the gay rights movement calls his “incredibly destructive” Bush legacy.

He remains controversial, both applauded and vilified. On the left, he is either an unlikely hero or a hypocritical coward. On the right, some Republicans embrace him; others deem him a traitor.

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New York Times:

Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican who has emerged as one of her party’s more moderate members in the Senate, said Wednesday that she supports same-sex marriage.

She becomes only the third Republican in the Senate to do so.

In a lengthy op-ed posted on her Web site, Ms. Murkowski said that what helped change her mind on the issue was getting to know a lesbian couple from Alaska. They were a family in every sense but one, Ms. Murkowski wrote. They adopted four children. They stayed together after enduring a separation because one of them served abroad in the Alaska National Guard.

“Yet despite signing up and volunteering to give themselves fully to these four adorable children, our government does not meet this family halfway and allow them to be legally recognized as spouses,” Ms. Murkowski wrote. “This first-class Alaskan family still lives a second-class existence.”

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from New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR).

Listen to the story by clicking here

As a congressman in 1996, Charlie Bass voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples.

But in late 2012, just before leaving office after losing his bid for re-election, he changed his position, supporting a bill to repeal the law.

And now, as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs the constitutionality of DOMA, Bass says his party must work toward greater acceptance of same-sex marriage.

“I urge all Republicans not to be caught on the wrong side of history. I think Americans across party lines, across gender lines, across philosophical lines are realizing that it’s wrong to be against allowing a loving couple to be joined together for life.”

Bass took part in a conference call Monday with U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who also supports national marriage equality.

The Supreme Court is also weighing the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a voter-passed referendum in California banning same-sex marriage.

Read the article and listen to the story from NHPR.

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Washington Post:

In this April 18, 2013, file photo Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton tell hundreds who turned out to rally at the State Capitol, in St. Paul, Minn. in support of a bill to legalize gay marriage that he hoped legislators will pass this year.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A national group of prominent GOP donors that supports gay marriage is pouring new money into lobbying efforts to get Republican lawmakers to vote to make it legal.

American Unity PAC was formed last year to lend financial support to Republicans who bucked the party’s longstanding opposition to gay marriage. Its founders are launching a new lobbying organization, American Unity Fund, and already have spent more than $250,000 in Minnesota, where the Legislature could vote on the issue as early as next week.

The group has spent $500,000 on lobbying since last month, including efforts in Rhode Island, Delaware, Indiana, West Virginia and Utah.

Billionaire hedge fund manager and Republican donor Paul Singer launched American Unity PAC. The lobbying effort is the next phase as the push for gay marriage spreads to more states, spokesman Jeff Cook-McCormac told The Associated Press.

“What you have is this network of influential Republicans who really want to see the party embrace the freedom to marry, and believe it’s not only the right thing for the country but also good politics,” Cook-McCormac said.

In Minnesota, the money has gone to state groups that are lobbying Republican lawmakers and for polling on gay marriage in a handful of suburban districts held by Republicans. So far, only one Minnesota Republican lawmaker has committed to voting to legalize gay marriage: Sen. Branden Petersen, of Andover.

“I think there will be some more. There are legislators out there that are struggling with this,” said Carl Kuhl, a former political aide to former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Kuhl’s public affairs firm is contracted by Minnesotans United, the lead lobby group for gay marriage in Minnesota and main recipient of American Unity’s Minnesota spending.

Gay marriage’s fate in Minnesota may rest with the House, where support is seen as shakier than in the Senate. A handful of votes from Republicans could put it over the top. Nearly two dozen House Republicans represent more socially moderate suburbs and might be candidates to vote yes.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he has encouraged advocates of the marriage bill to round up Republican votes, if nothing else than to send a message to Minnesota residents that it’s not a partisan proposition. But that will be politically risky; the main opposition group to same-sex marriage, Minnesota for Marriage, has said it will seek consequences for Republicans who stray on gay marriage.

Part of American Unity PAC’s original mission was to spend money on behalf of Republican gay marriage supporters. Many GOP lawmakers have faced primary challenges funded in part by anti-gay marriage groups such as the National Organization for Marriage, which argue that the lawmakers had betrayed the party’s core principles.

Since forming the lobby group last month, American Unity also spent money to win over Republican lawmakers in Rhode Island, where last week all five Republicans in the state Senate jumped on the gay marriage bandwagon. Rhode Island is on track to legalize gay marriage by next week, which would make it the 11th U.S. state where gay marriage is legal.

There are also plans to lobby federal lawmakers on gay rights issues.

“We intend to work on this effort until every American citizen is treated equally under the law,” Cook-McCormac said. Other wealthy, traditionally Republican donors giving money to the group include Seth Klarman, David Herro and Cliff Asness.

Though only one current GOP officeholder in Minnesota is on record supporting gay marriage, a handful of prominent Republicans have spoken out in favor of it. They include former state auditor Pat Anderson and Brian McClung, who was spokesman for former Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Prominent Republican donors including former politician Wheelock Whitney and businesswoman Marilyn Carlson Nelson have also lent support and donated money.

Since it first formed to campaign against last fall’s gay marriage ban and then shifted to pushing for its legalization at the Capitol, Minnesotans United has been building Republican alliances, hiring multiple lobbyists with Republican ties.

Read the article from Washington Post.

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Des Moines Register:

written by David Kochel.

Dawn BarbouRoske, center, and her partner, Jen BarbouRoske, right, celebrate with daughters McKinley, left, and Bre after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled to legalize gay marriage in 2009. / Christopher Gannon/Register File Photo

Four years ago, Iowa blazed a trail for equality in America’s heartland. Our state proudly reaffirmed the commitment to the fundamental individual rights enshrined in the Iowa Constitution by allowing loving and committed same-sex couples to marry.

In choosing freedom and equality over fear, our state honored the commitment to one another, not just as fellow citizens but as neighbors, and we demonstrated for the nation that we are stronger when we stand up for all our families.

Four years later, here’s what we’ve learned: The corn still grows tall, the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers still flow strongly in the spring, and no state can match the beauty or bounty of our rolling hills and farmland. In short, nothing changed when Iowa enacted the freedom to marry. Nothing changed, except that now more kids are living in stable, two-parent homes than before, and more families enjoy the freedoms and protections of the rest of us. Marriage equality is pro-family.

As a Republican, I believe that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right. I believe that our Constitution is intended to ensure liberty, justice and equality. While I respect the views of fellow conservatives who disagree, time has shown that traditional marriage advocates are on the wrong side of history. And as more Iowans welcome new families into our communities, the pace of acceptance will quicken.

Even though the majority of public opinion was not behind their unanimous decision at the time, the justices on our Supreme Court upheld their responsibility by ruling to protect the rights of gay couples rather than yield to threats from the opposition.
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