The topic of marriage will be a difficult one to escape in Des Moines Tuesday as advocates and opponents of legalized same-sex marriages converge on the Capitol.
A coalition of social conservative organizations have organized a “Marriage Rally” that will begin with training offered by Tamara Scott, director of the Iowa chapter of Concerned Women for America, and include a demonstration on the west steps of the Iowa Capitol.
One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group, is the primary driving force behind a “March at the Capitol” that will also begin with a training session before attendees are sent to speak one-on-one with state lawmakers.
Although conservative interests in the state have found support with Republicans, who have used their majority to pass legislation that would limit or eliminate same-sex marriage rights in Iowa, Democrats who hold a majority in the Iowa Senate have thus far thwarted all efforts. Frustrations for social conservatives have bubbled over in the past week, with key leaders of the movement calling for their supporters to work non-stop to defeat Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) and other members of Democratic leadership who have stalled their attempts to roll back a 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision.
The Marriage Rally today, according to Bob Vander Plaats, head of Christian conservative organization The Family Leader, is intended to “urge our Senators to ‘Let Us Vote’ on HJR6, the Iowa Marriage Amendment that protects and preserves marriage as between one man and one woman.”
One Iowa Political Director Troy Price notes that their demonstration will focus on a “Red Blue Purple” coalition of more than 100 organizations and 200,000 Iowans who oppose limiting marriage rights.
“These groups underscore the broad-based support for blocking any effort to add discrimination into our constitution,” said Price.
The conservative coalition has arranged for Roy Moore, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and unsuccessful Alabama Republican gubernatorial candidate, to be their keynote speaker. Moore was removed from the bench on ethics charges after he usurped orders from his fellow Supreme Court justices and a federal judge to remove a 5,280-pound granite Ten Commandments monument he commissioned from the rotunda of the state judicial building.
Inclusion of Moore in the Iowa event has prompted national attention. Josh Dorner, writing for the Think Progress Wonk Room, notes that Moore, while serving as a circuit court judge, opened his court proceedings with prayers. As Moore’s celebrity status rose in conservative Christian circles, an influential and anti-gay Florida-based religious group, Coral Ridge Ministries, filmed the installation of Moore’s self-funded monument in Alabama and pledged to sell the video and other Moore-related tokens to financially support any future legal defense.
As time passed, Moore became more entrenched with anti-gay extremists who have advocated for gays to be executed. He wrote a notorious concurring opinion for the Alabama Supreme Court that derided homosexuality “to be detestable and an abominable sin.”
“Homosexual conduct by its very nature is immoral, and its consequences are inherently destructive to the natural order of society. Any person who engages in such conduct is presumptively unfit to have custody of minor children under the established laws of this State.”
In addition, Moore has publicly argued that Muslims should not be allowed to sit in Congress, and has aligned himself with and monetarily supported the “birther” movement, which argues that President Barack Obama is foreign born and, therefore, ineligible to hold his office. (Dorner provides much more of Moore’s attachment with extreme views in his Think Progress report.)
It has been so secret in Iowa that much of the money funneled into the state for the purposes of ousting Iowa Supreme Court justices involved in the ruling that legalized same-sex marriage has come from anti-gay religious groups from outside of the state. To date, however, those passing money to Vander Plaats for the purpose of influencing Iowans in relation to homosexuality have not commonly served as keynote speakers for the local movement. In fact, Vander Plaats has been adamant that statements made by leaders of the national groups funding his state effort should not be construed as his own beliefs or that of his Iowa movement against same-sex marriage.
Whether or not Moore’s appearance in Des Moines will result in a more direct line between extremism and Iowa social conservatives remains to be seen.