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Right-wing activists in Iowa link same-sex marriage to child abuse

DES MOINES — The west steps of the state Capitol saw around 400 conservative activists Tuesday, mostly dressed in red, criticizing gay rights supporters and calling on the Iowa Senate to pass HJR 6, which would set the stage for Iowans to vote on a constitutional ban of same-sex marriages.

The “Let Us Vote” rally was organized and promoted by The Family Leader, a conservative organization led by former Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats. Speakers included Rev. Keith Ratliff, a Des Moines Baptist minister, and Pastor Cary Gordon, the Sioux City pastor who drew controversy for violating his church’s nonprofit tax status by promoting the ousting of the Iowa Supreme Court justices.

Former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore spoke as well, who once wrote in a high court opinion that homosexuality is “detestable and an abominable sin.”

Moore lost his seat as Alabama chief justice in 2003 for commissioning, placing and then refusing to move a monument of the Ten Commandments at the judicial building. He also unsuccessfully ran twice for Alabama governor as a Republican.

Moore noted the irony of his support to oust high court justices, after he was ousted himself, but stood by his decision at the time to go against the order to remove the Christian monument. He, as well as other speakers, repeatedly called for a government defined by Christian principles, and lamented the idea of same gender marriages and families.

“No society is prepared to deal with the problems arising out of same-sex marriages; child abuse, adoption, divorce, foster care, alimony, and the list goes on and on,” Moore said as the crowd nodded in agreement and called out in support.

Throughout the speeches, “Amens” and cat-calls of agreement came from the crowd. Most of the speakers made mention of quotes from the founding fathers and attributed the nation’s problems with a lack of religion.

In order for citizens to have a chance to vote on the proposed constitutional amendment — which would not only outlaw same-sex marriages, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships — its language must be approved by both chambers of the Iowa legislature in two consecutive general assemblies.

Currently the legislation to pass the Iowa Marriage Amendment has been halted in the Iowa Senate, which is controlled by Democrats who have vowed to never bring it to a vote.

“Attempts by the right-wing to overreach and limit the rights of Iowans are unfortunate and disappointing in a state that has such a rich history of protecting civil rights,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky.

No lawmakers spoke at the event. During an earlier House debate over the resolution many Democrats spoke out against it, however, only a couple Republicans said anything to support it.

Rep. Rich Anderson, R-Clarinda, said at the time legalizing same-sex marriages would lead to polygamy and incest. The same “slippery slope” argument was made by nearly every speaker at the “Let Us Vote” rally.

Ratliff was also upset about gay rights supporters equating the struggle to marriage equality to civil rights movement of the 20th century. He called it an “insult” to the movement and said the gay community needs to “stop hijacking the civil rights movement.”

“This debate is about granting all Iowans the same protection and freedom guaranteed to them in the constitution,” Dvorsky said. “Any attempt to limit the rights of Iowans should be met with reasonable and firm opposition.”

About 60 supporters of same-sex marriage rights also appeared at the Capitol to lobby Iowa Representatives. Most of the Let Us Vote crowd attempted to speak with Iowa Senators.

Video by Tyler Kingkade

Slideshow by Tyler Kingkade

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