Last Thursday, TheIowaRepublican.com met up with the Branstad campaign in Waterloo. Branstad, who was in the middle of his “Comeback Tour,” officially launched his campaign for governor from the Iowa Historical Building last Tuesday. On Thursday, the tour took him from Waterloo to Storm Lake, with stops in Mason City and Spencer along the way. TheIowaRepublican.com hitched a ride with the Branstad campaign as it traveled from Waterloo to Mason City in the “Comeback Express.”
The hour long ride provided a great opportunity for TheIowaRepublican.com to conduct its first interview with Branstad. The interview covered a number of topics, the difference between his current campaign and his previous ones, a long discussion about the state budget, spending, and his record as governor, and finally what he thinks should be done following the Supreme Court decision that brought gay marriage to Iowa.
Today’s article will focus on the issue of marriage. Branstad has been criticized by a number of outspoken Christian activists. In its endorsement of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, the Iowa Family Policy Center called out Branstad when they said, “He [Branstad] appears to lack an understanding of the deeply important principles that current policies threaten, or at the very least seems to lack the fervor necessary to address them.”
At his event in Waterloo and in his interview with TheIowaRepublican.com, Branstad displayed plenty of passion on this issue of gay marriage. Not only did the former Governor provide a clear roadmap for Republicans to follow that would allow them to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, he also showed a willingness to go even further than groups like IFPC are willing to go by advocating the use of the constitutional convention option that is available to voters in November.
During the question and answer segment at Branstad’s stop in Waterloo, a Catholic priest asked Branstad if he would support a statewide referendum that would over-turn the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage. Branstad emphatically said that he would, and then reminded people that he was the governor who signed the defense of marriage law.
Branstad also said, “We need to do now what 31 states have already done, most recently Maine. By referendum, they reinstated one-man, one-woman marriage. It’s also been done in California. Every state that has seen it come up on the ballot, it has been approved. I support the Iowa legislature giving the people of Iowa an opportunity to vote on this issue.”
Branstad went even farther saying, “I don’t think it’s right or fair for one leader in the Senate or the House to deny the people a vote on an issue of this importance. I don’t think other legislators should stand back and say ‘Oh, we can’t do anything about it,’ because they can replace the leader who is that unresponsive and unwilling to give the people a right to vote.”
After the event, TheIowaRepublican.com asked Branstad if he was frustrated with how IFPC’s endorsement was handled. Branstad quickly stated, “The only endorsement that I’m really looking for is the one we get on Election Day. Obviously, I appreciate those who do endorse me, but I’m not going to criticize those who don’t.”
While he didn’t criticize IFPC, he did voice disappointment in former State Representative Danny Carroll who now serves as the Chairman of the Iowa Family Policy Center. “I’ve been through enough contested elections, and sometimes you find people who you have done a lot for, that you have helped, that disappoint you. I’ve got to say that I’m disappointed in Danny Carroll. I’ve been a very loyal supporter of his, I’ve donated to his campaigns, and I’ve done appearances for him. So yeah, I was disappointed in Danny.”
When he was asked about the Supreme Court’s April 3rd ruling, Branstad said, “Now there is a big disappointment.” He was then asked what could be done, Branstad again articulated the need pass a constitutional amendment.
“Iowans have a sense of fairness,” Branstad said. “The idea that the Supreme Court, a seven member court, could totally change what’s been the law of the land and the basic building block of society for centuries in one court decision is wrong. That kind of change should only happen through the deliberative legislative process. The only sure way to overturn it is to pass a constitutional amendment,” Branstad added.
Branstad believes that most Iowans feel that the people should be given a chance to vote on the definition of marriage. The only way that the people of Iowa will have the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage is if a constitutional amendment is passed since Iowa doesn’t have referendums like some other states.
Branstad also thinks that Iowa Democrats risk opening themselves up to the same sort of situation that led to Democrats losing Ted Kennedy’s senate seat in Massachusetts. Branstad said that people objected to the Democrats notion of “We know better than you do, were going to cut our secret deals, we are going to do it our way, and we’re not accountable to you.”
Branstad added, “We have to be the party of the people on this. We’ve got to be the voice of the people of Iowa who want fairness and reasonableness.” He admitted that even though some people might not be in support of the amendment, there are a number of people who do recognize that an issue of such importance should be put up for a vote by the people.
Maybe the most surprising part of the interview was the when Branstad talked about another option that Iowans have to overturn the court’s decision, the constitutional convention which is on the ballot in 2010.
Branstad said that as Governor, he would offer to preside over such a convention. While groups like IFPC are afraid to explore the constitutional convention option because they concede that Mike Gronstal will remain in his leadership role, Branstad thinks the idea is worth exploring. He also added that, no matter what comes out of the constitutional convention, the people of Iowa still must vote on each proposed change to the state’s constitution.
The constitutional convention is by far the quickest route to overturning the Court’s decision on gay marriage. It’s also conceivable that, should Republicans and traditional marriage advocates opt to go down that road, other issues could also be addressed. In addition to marriage, groups like Iowans for Tax Relief could work on amending the constitution so that it includes a 99% spending limitation. Second amendment advocates could strengthen gun rights, and individual property rights could also be addressed. This would also be an opportunity to constitutionally limit the power of the courts so as to prevent the courts from attempting to make law in the future.
After talking with Branstad on the issue of marriage, it seems as though his position on marriage has been misunderstood, misinterpreted, or perhaps not clearly communicated until recently. In any event, it’s clear that Branstad fully supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage and is open to the idea of a constitutional convention to more quickly accomplish that end.
What’s been lacking in Iowa’s fight to protect and now reinstate traditional marriage is a credible leader who can educate and motivate Iowans to act. Branstad now appears to be vying for that position.
Photo courtesy of the Branstad campaign.
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