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Anti-Gay Marriage Groups Organize Big Final Push Over Judicial Retention Elections in Iowa

Social issues might be taking a back seat to fiscal issues in many states in the lead-up to next week’s elections, but don’t tell that to Iowa. The state’s judicial retention election for three Iowa Supreme Court justices who voted to allow gay marriage in 2009 is drawing in conservative groups from all around the country in an all-out effort to urge voters to remove them:

[A]nti-gay marriage groups and politicians will hold 20 events in four days around the state hoping to rally public opinion against Iowa judges.

The face of the campaign, Bob Vander Plaats’ group Iowa for Freedom, is a project of Mississippi-based American Family Association. But they are not alone. The Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, Georgia-based Faith & Freedom Coalition and New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage all bring direct funding or in-kind legal and promotional support to local organizations looking to oust the justices. [...]

Vander Plaats’ Iowa for Freedom campaign got a boost last month when New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage (NOM) spent nearly $235,000 on a TV ad campaign targeting the three judges up for retention. This week, the group spent another $200,000 on a new TV ad campaign.

The groups’ latest effort is a mode of campaigning that NOM has become famous for: the bus tour. NOM executive director Brian Brown will be riding around the state all week on the Family Research Council’s tour, which kicked off yesterday with a Statehouse rally in Des Moines. “I can’t overstate the significance of what is about to happen in Iowa,” Brown told the assembled crowd. “The whole country is looking at you. This cannot be overstated.”

Today the tour moved to the town of Carroll, and it will continue on to Cedar Rapids tomorrow and end back at the Supreme Court building in Des Moines on Thursday. The Iowa Independent will be on the scene in all those locations and will be providing the latest on what’s taking place on the ground.

As a footnote, the AP reports that some observers are worried about the campaign because gay marriage opponents have at times called on Iowans to oppose all 74 judges on the ballot this election cycle:

Eugene Meyer, commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety, said at a rally held by justice supporters that he worried that the widespread removal of judges would cripple the justice system.

Former Republican lieutenant governor Art Neu said he’s also worried about that possibility.

“I don’t think any of us can contemplate the breakdown of our legal system should anything close to what they’re proposing take place,” said Neu.

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