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Posts Tagged ‘marriage equality’

Iowa Republicans Hide Extremism

Braley-Borlaug Front Page

Braley-Borlaug Front Page

Labor Day is the official kickoff of the fall election campaign, but there seems to be a lot of campaign stuff going on now.

The biggest news was the video of Rep. Bruce Braley commenting about the kind of chair of the Judiciary Committee U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley might make should Republicans regain control of the upper chamber.

The video was released by a group called Priorities for Iowa, another 501 (c) 4 funded by what is becoming common parlance, “dark money.” The release was timed to coincide with the unveiling of the Norman Borlaug statue in the U.S. Capitol, which replaced that of former U.S. Senator and abolitionist James Harlan, which had been there since before Borlaug was born. By any standard, Borlaug was a farmer and the front page of the Quad City Times, which visually associated Braley’s comments with Borlaug, is something Braley should frame and put in his office as a reminder that he needs to do better in his campaign for U.S. Senator. If one listens to the video, it is neither disparaging toward Grassley nor to farmers generally. That won’t stop the right wingers from saying it is so.

Speaking of right wingers, something else I have been following is the development of guns, gays and abortion legislation in this session of the Iowa legislature. Yesterday was bad news for progressive politicos, as none of them gained traction during floor debate.

There was a curious change in the House Floor Action ticker regarding abortion and guns. As I watched the live posts, the following was made:

“Motion by Shaw to invoke Rule 60 in order to withdraw HF 138 from the Judiciary Committee and place it on the House Calendar– Out of Order.”

When I went in to double check the ticker for this post, the entry had been changed to this:

“Motion by Shaw to invoke Rule 60 in order to withdraw HF 2284 from the Judiciary Committee and place it on the House Calendar – Out of Order.”

I am certain a change was made because I had to look up HF 138 to see what it was after the original post, and last night, I searched the ticker for HF 2284 and couldn’t find it.

Here is the House Journal record:

“Shaw of Pocahontas moved to invoke Rule 60, to immediately withdraw House File 2284 from committee on Judiciary and place it on the calendar.
The Speaker ruled the motion not in order.”

Maybe it was a typo, and maybe not, but HF 138 is the personhood bill, and HF 2284 is the so called “Constitutional Carry” bill, both of which I expected to be called up from judiciary yesterday using Rule 60.

The reason this is bad news is that House Republicans are showing a modicum of decorum and consistency by following their own rules on these two bills. That is something they did not do in 2011 just after the TEA party rebellion of the 2010 midterms. What is worse news for progressives is that definition of marriage did not make it onto the House legislative radar screen at all this session.

Nothing has changed in the Republican caucus, except they are doing a much better job of hiding the extremism of the right wing of their party. Since most people don’t follow politics very closely, it matters to advancing a progressive agenda if Republicans are perceived as not that bad.

With the late spring and a winter backlog of projects, it seems way too early for politics. Nonetheless, how can one not be engaged in things that matter in our lives on the Iowa prairie.

Iowa City Celebrates Supreme Court Decision Striking Down DOMA

photo/whitehouse.gov

photo/whitehouse.gov

Kim Painter serves as recorder in Johnson County, Iowa. In 1998, she became the first openly gay first-time candidate elected to office in Iowa. This year she was named a Harvey Milk Champion of Change by President Obama.   These are her remarks at the rally in Iowa City yesterday following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision declaring DOMA unconstitutional.  

History – we have been surrounded by it all week. And today, the historical moment we have long awaited came. By a 5-4 vote, we have a new standing in the judicial concept of our Constitution for our lawful marriages. The ruling said:
“DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

We have never before been gifted with that type of wording from the nation’s high court. We have equal liberty – under an amendment of the US Constitution.

So tonight, we can enjoy a victory that was decades coming. We should be happy, and celebrate being named as full legal participants in the life of our nation. But as we celebrate, we must remember we got here with the help of others. We got here with friends, and family, and others who struggle still for recognition and equality under the law.

Tonight, as we express our joy in today’s victory, we tell them: We are here beside you, and we will not go away. You will not fight this fight alone, and we will do whatever we can to help you prevail and assume your birthright as Americans. The right to vote, the right to address grievances fully and fairly in the workplace, the right to marry the people we love and have fully protected families and belongings under the laws of this great land.

I said it last night, and I say again today: “America can be a rough place, and an aggravating place. But there is no place like it. It may humble you, it may trample you, but if you persevere in spite of the bad times, it will not deny you forever, and one day…it will lift you up.” Today we have been lifted up, and tonight we hold out our arms to grab onto and lift up others. Enjoy this night, and have a wonderful celebration.

Senator Dennis Guth Goes On Anti-Gay Tirade

State Senator Dennis Guth Republican District 4

State Senator Dennis Guth – Republican District 4

[Note from BFIA:  We don't know about you, but we've had just about enough of the stupid party. Please respond to this Action Alert from OneIowa.]

Today at the beginning of the Iowa Senate workday, Senator Dennis Guth of Klemme took advantage of “points of personal privilege” to make horrific comments about the LGBT community, describing how he feels he and his family have been hurt and how civilizations have fallen by what he describes as the “homosexual lifestyle.” Not only did Sen. Guth dismiss the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as a “lifestyle,” he then went on to say that it was “a lie.”

In a vitriolic rant, Senator Guth spread lies and ignorance at the Iowa State Capitol today:

“There are health risks that my family incurs because of the increase of sexually transmitted infections that this lifestyle invites. For example, there are more and more medical tests required before giving blood or giving birth.”

Please donate $100 today to help us fight back against these ignorant and dangerous lies.

Senator Guth, how dare you?  How dare you denigrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens of Iowa? How dare you hurt our family and friends with your public tirade? How dare you perpetrate the myths and the misinformation that have fueled the discrimination, prejudice and hostility that has for so long impacted our community?

Iowa has stood as a beacon of justice and fairness as the third state in the nation to embrace marriage equality. More than 6,000 gay and lesbian couples have been married in our state. We live here, we work, we pay our taxes, we VOTE, we raise our families, we go to church and we contribute a great deal to our neighborhoods and communities.

And, Senator Guth, today you chose to infect the business of the legislature with your painful and homophobic rant. Shame on you, Senator Guth! Shame on you!

Please call or email Senator Guth today and tell him that your family is not “a lie.” Demand an apology for his remarks and urge him to represent ALL of his constituents.

Senator Guth’s diatribe reminds us that even though we celebrate the freedom to marry in Iowa, even though we move equality forward every day, even though the world is changing and we are winning–we must remain vigilant. We must continue to use our voices and our stories to change hearts and minds. We must never forget where we came from or where we are going. As long as there is one person in Iowa who carries such fear and ignorance, our job is not over.

Please contribute $100 today to ensure that our fight against these attacks continues. One Iowa will not rest until despicable comments like these from our public servants are no longer accepted.

But we’re not the only people speaking out against Senator Guth’s shameful comments.

Married couple Heather Yeoman and Rachel Olson, Lake Mills residents, responded:

“It is clear that Senator Guth, our so-called ‘representative’ does not value our family nor the love and commitment we have for one another. I am disgusted and ashamed of my Senator for spreading such ignorant and hurtful lies about our family and countless other Iowa families. Make no mistake, Senator—our marriage and our love is not a lie.”

Joy M. Newcom, District 4 resident from Forest City, responded:

“As an Iowan, a former educator and a mother, I am ashamed of my Senator and his horrific comments about the LGBT community. LGBT people are a part of my extended family. They are my friends and have been my coworkers. They are students I have taught and continue to respect for the manner in which they live their lives today. These comments, parroted from erroneous ideology from anti-gay groups, are beyond outrageous. They are dangerous lies.

Senator Guth, we, the Newcom family, are your constituents and your fellow Iowans. You claim to be our public servant, but you are hurting our community by spreading lies posed as science. You are breeding a culture of injustice for people we live with and work alongside. Please stop. You were not elected to legislate your morality or to spread falsehoods.”

So we ask you to please take action today. Stand up for Heather and Rachel and the Newcom Family. They deserve a state Senator who doesn’t attack his constituents, but rather embraces all families.

Is that too much to ask?

Thank you,
Donna Red Wing
One Iowa Executive Director

The Prairie Progressive 2012 Honor Roll

Summertime Murmur:
Prairie Dog’s 2012 Honor Roll

Amanda Coyne launched a sizzling career in investigative journalism after moving from Iowa City to Alaska. With her husband Tony Hopfinger, Coyne plunged into the politics of Big Oil in Alaska, covering a bribery and tax scandal involving Sen. Ted Stevens. Coyne turned down an offer to write a biography of Sarah Palin, preferring instead to write Crude Awakening: Money, Mavericks, and Mayhem in Alaska. She and her husband founded Alaska Dispatch, an on-line only news site that quickly became the second-mosttrafficked news site in the state. Winners of numerous awards for investigative reporting and public service, the couple’s goal is to “take an unflinching look at the state, from its massive riches to its abject poverty, and tell these stories to Alaskans and to the world.”

Last year former Iowa State Senator Jeff Angelo of Creston started Iowa Republicans for Freedom to show support for marriage equality. He continues to promote the  conservative principle that government should stay out of the private lives of all Iowans, including gays and lesbians. Once the lead sponsor of a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, Angelo criticizes his fellow Republicans who “get lost in senseless debates that do nothing but demean our neighbors and threaten the rights of our fellow Iowans.”   Unfortunately, no information is currently available on how many members the group has enlisted.

Tom Vilsack has made his share of missteps over the years, including the signing of Iowa’s “English Only” bill as
Governor in 2002. As USDA Secretary in 2010, he again succumbed to rightwing pressure, forcing rural development
director Shirley Sherrod to resign after an out-of-context video appeared on a conservative web site. In both instances, Vilsack later apologized and publicly announced his regret. He’s earned his way on to this year’s Honor Roll by working hard “to ensure that the civil rights of USDA constituents and employees are respected and protected.” Vilsack has helped to implement the ‘black farmer’ lawsuit, conducted a disparity study of unfair treatment within the USDA, and – perhaps most remarkably – stated in a meeting with black farmers, “When I became Secretary I thought I knew something about racism, but I don’t. I’m learning every day.”

The June 2012 primary campaign was unusually nasty by Johnson County standards. The demonization of Auditor
Tom Slockett ranged from juvenile and scatological web sites to numerous charges filed against him with the state
campaign ethics board (of which only one — using a personal cell phone for political purposes in a public office –was found worthy of the board’s “least severe” reprimand). Some usually sensible Democrats and public officials fell victim to the nearly hysterical vilification of Slockett, feverishly latching on to every accusation and unattributed rumor that bubbled from the muck. Most appalling, though, was the performance of the Iowa City Press Citizen. Unsurprisingly, it editorialized against the incumbent auditor, as it had in the past, but it also allowed itself to be swept up in the vicious anti-Slockett tide when it should have cast a cool eye on the ugliness that seemed to grow exponentially as the primary went on. The only media person to publicly resist the blood-in-the-water vituperation was columnist Jennifer Hemmingsen of the Cedar Rapids Gazette:

“We can expect some meaty debate in at least one local race. That is, if some Slockett-haters can get their over-the-top rhetoric under control… Voters must know how Slockett proposes to address these ethical and procedural concerns so they can decide for themselves if he’s still the right candidate for the job. But they also deserve an election that’s based on more than hidden detractors lobbing rotten tomatoes at the incumbent.”

Many Iowa City Community School District watchers believe that the School Board of the early 2000s was exceptionally effective, productive, and transparent. Much of the credit goes to Lauren Reece Flaum, who served two terms from 1999 to 2005 and as board president from 2001 to 2004. Her leadership helped pass a $39 million bond referendum that led to the expansion of classrooms and built a new high school, junior high, and elementary school across the district. The Prairie Progressive will miss Lauren’s friendship, her extraordinary ability to bring people together, and her clear and thoughtful writing. We offer a brief sample from her article Summertime Murmur in the August 2009 PP:

“I often wonder what it is that gets hold of fair, open-minded people once they join a school board. How quickly it’s forgotten that the board’s job is to lead the superintendent and not the other way around! But I do remember that courage is not revered in the climate of the board committee; conformity is. The complexities of school finance formulas in conjunction with the steep learning curve of other issues conspire to intimidate rather than embolden. People fall in line. I often did myself.”

— Prairie Dog

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2012 issue of The Prairie Progressive, Iowa’s oldest progressive newsletter, available only in hard copy for $12/yr.!!  Send check to PP, Box 1945, Iowa City 52244. 

Comment On Marriage Equality

Monday three Iowa judges (Marsha Thurness pictured left, David Baker and Michael Streit)  received the prestigious Profile In Courage Award from Caroline Kennedy for their part in the Varnum v. Brien decision legalizing marriage equality in Iowa. Wednesday President Obama comments that he can see no reason that same sex couples can’t marry. Yet two more small steps in the on-going drama as another group inches toward human equality in a nation which touts equality of all citizens in many of its founding documents.

One of the greatest struggles in the United States is the struggle between what we as a nation profess to believe and what we actually practice. The stated equality for all citizens is sadly still an unachieved goal in many areas nearly 240 years after the Declaration of Independence and almost 225 years after the adoption of our Constitution.

One can safely say that African Americans are still not treated the same before the law as caucasians. Latinos have recently had laws passed in several states that are drafted specifically to treat them differently. Women as a group continue to be treated by many state legislatures as second class citizens. The poor have their rights trampled on daily. And the rich not only are treated differently, but they do not hide their open attempts to buy legislative votes for their interests.

I applaud and thank President Obama for his statement supporting marriage equality. But as noted above, true equality will be a long time coming yet.

And a question for those who are fighting so hard to keep so many groups in less than first class status. Do you really want to live in the society that you are working so hard to create? Remember, those who take away the rights of others can easily take yours away also.

How The Republicans Plan To Steal The Election.

Trying to keep track of all the ways that Republicans have set in motion at state and national levels to win the 2012 election with a little cheat here and a big cheat there and whatever other maneuvers is an almost mind boggling exercise. Republicans in state legislators are trying to squash the vote, Republicans in county auditors offices will do little to help voters vote. And of course we still have thousands of electronic voting machines deployed throughout the country that have no trail of any kind to verify voting on.

As I have brought up a couple times before, I expect gasoline prices to be the Republicans’ secret weapon in this election. Since oil companies can manipulate prices with impunity and since oil companies nearly 100% openly back Republicans, this seems like a good fit. When you add in the corporate media that is 95% leaning right to hammer on gas prices 24 hours a day, we have set up a tailor made issue for any Republican with a huge amount of free hype. In my mind this is probably the biggest threat to Obama’s re-election.

So while I was pondering all of this, I came across a quite similar article where Mr. Doug Marquardt lists the various election projects that Republicans have in the works to influence the outcome of the election. Thus I will cite his fine piece of work and let you read it yourselves. It is a fairly short piece that does seem to hit all the various projects.
To me, all the various ways the Republicans have come up with to cheat the system and to cheat citizens of their right to vote just shouts out that they have no ideas and fewer decent candidates. They continue to paint themselves into a tighter and tighter corner ideologically, such that about the only appeal to a base that is increasingly white, old and male. Nearly everyday, someplace in this country, some arm of the GOP tells another group to go away, we do not want you.

Just in recent weeks they have had a couple of large schisms with women. Now they are condemning Girl Scouts as a front organization for Planned Parenthood.  Amazingly, many union members still seem to be so-called “Reagan Democrats” even though Republicans have demonstrated many times they have little to no regard for working people. Those who work in the public sector are regarded as little more than leeches by Republicans. Immigrants seem to hold a special level of hate with Republicans.

The only thing that Republicans have going for them is an extremely friendly media that helps confuse a tired and stressed out large mass of fairly low informed voters. With two workers in most households barely able to make ends meet, many voters have little time to pay to politics especially to delve into the real issues. So the use of right wing words and bumper sticker phrases that paint issues in a GOP light is one of the greatest helps they can get. Especially when it comes from NPR.

Comment On Voting For Marriage Equality.
Much like many of our cowardly state politicians, Gov. Christy of New Jersey last week vetoed a marriage equality bill in his state saying that this is an issue that the public should vote on. As many of us know, voting on someone elses rights was never the intent of the constitution. Rights are not up to public approval, but are basic to being a human in a democratic society.

Of course here in Iowa Bob VanderPlaats has long pushed for a vote on marriage equality. That way he and his ilk can blame the public for taking rights away. Abraham Lincoln is not remembered in history for pushing really hard for a vote to free the slaves. Whatever privileges are given to one group of people by our government must be given to all. It’s that darn 14th amendment thing.

But I do believe that there is an issue that the public should vote on. There is a group of legislators that is trying to pass a bill that will take money from us and give it to a private company so they can eventually build a privately owned nuclear power plant. The state taking money from us is a tax. Taxing us to directly benefit a private company? Now that has my hackles up big time. The fact that it is a nuclear power plant just adds to the stench of the whole affair.

I have never been one who is in favor of building ballparks or arenas for professional sports teams. Nor am I in favor of using government funds to entice a company to move. What should be the enticement for a company to locate here are things like good schools, quality of life, clean environment etc. All that goes out the window when we tax folks to pay for some company’s workplace with public money.

Lincoln’s Birthday Observations

This is the Party of Honest Abe?
Almost comical isn’t it? The Republican Party’s first president was revered for his penchant for telling the truth. How well would that go in the party he helped found today? Few can remember when Mitt Romney last told the truth or took a stand he didn’t reverse the next day. Were Mister Lincoln to have a glimpse of what his Party has become, no doubt he would cry.

You want war with Iran? Show us the money!
Not that being able to pay for a war would be a reason to go to war, BUT before the drumbeats of war get too loud, let’s have some real adult talk about how it will be paid for.

Warring on the credit card is no longer acceptable.

The last Republican bozo put us $5 Trillion in debt with his magic combination of tax cuts and bad war.
Cutting back on programs for the poor has pretty much reached it’s end. And the middle class is slowly sinking into poverty thanks to austerity.

We are to the point where the only revenue source left is the rich. And these are the ones who profit most by war.
- So Mitt, Rick, Newt – if you want war, will you force the rich to pay for it?

The kerfluffle over birth control

Republicans are trying to wrap their noisy opposition to mandated birth control coverage in health care plans in a cloak of religious liberty. If you believe them, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

When one -  just one -  Republican stands up for a Muslim,  or better yet an atheist,  in the name of religious liberty then I will pay attention. They only believe in religious liberty for their narrowly defined set of cults. And no, Mr. Romney, your group is not included yet.

Just in – a great opportunity for Republicans to back up the religious liberty of atheists. Huffingtonpost reports that the Latin word for “God” has been removed from the Air Force logo. Here is your chance, Republicans!

If this shows us nothing else, it shows us that health care needs to be totally, totally divorced from employment.

The money will prevail
In case you have forgotten, money is the only driving force in the Republican Party. Therefore Mitt will win the nomination, no matter what has to be done to make it happen. Romney is a member of the ruling class and the choice of the money. Social issues are only used to get votes.

Planned Parenthood fundraising ploy
Having Nancy Brinker and Karen Handel threaten to withhold funds from Planned Parenthood has to be one of the greatest money raising campaigns ever for Planned Parenthood. My hat’s off to Ms. Brinker and Handel for this brilliant campaign! Surely other non-profits will be using this method in the future. Again, brilliant!

Observation on financial status
From Bill in Portland Maine on dailykos.com:  “The lower you are on the financial ladder, the more likely you are to be punished for something related to your finances.”

A word on the weather
Warm. Mildest winter I can remember. This week is normally among the coldest of the year. We have spent days below 0 during this period. But not this year. I am not a weather person and this is only my memory, but is this going to be the first winter ever where we did not go below zero?

Republicans believe in getting government out of business’ life
and into the women’s reproductive system. Boy oh boy, I bet the founding fathers never saw that coming. Three years of equal marriage in Iowa.

My first thought always goes to Tom Sands, state rep from Columbus Junction. In the back of a crowded forum room as he left, he pounded his finger into my chest and told me over and over that “homosexuality is wrong and must be stopped. It’s a sin.” I really feared that his marriage would be one of the first to splinter under the weight of marriage equality. If not then he was lying about how marriages would be breaking up all over Iowa.

Let us hope his district gives him much more time to fight sin next November and elects someone who is reality based.