The  Iowa Federation of Labor’s President, Ken Sager, spoke against HJR 6 (which passed in the Iowa House today) at the public hearing on the resolution (listen below) in the Iowa House chamber last night.  He “took liberty” with German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous statement, “First they came.”

Sagar “paraphrased” the pastor who endured Nazi persecution when he said:

When they came for the minorities I did not speak out because I was not a minority.

When they locked up the immigrants, I said nothing as I wasn’t an immigrant.

When they came for the gays I did not speak out because I was a gay.

While there are several variations to Niemoller’s statement the most often quoted is this:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Some versions also mention Catholics.  I can understand speaking passionately about this issue.  It is an incredibly important discussion for Iowans to have.  I do have a huge problem with Mr. Sagar’s reference to this statement.  Linking persecution at the hands of Nazis in concentration camps to merely wanting to vote on the definition of marriage is vilifying the opposition.  It is inappropriate, and I’ve been consistent with this position when it was directed at those with whom I disagree.  Also what immigrants are getting “locked up”?  Illegal immigrants?  Who is coming for the gays?

Nobody.  Nobody.  Those of us who don’t believe that the Iowa Supreme Court had the authority to change the definition of marriage want a public discussion and debate.   We want to be allowed to decide this matter for ourselves (and we understand we could lose the vote).  We don’t want to see homosexuals mistreated.  Comparing those who are in favor of this bill to Nazis is out of line.   This rhetoric contributes nothing to a civil debate.

5 comments
  1. I disagree. If someone is infringing on your inalienable rights as an American, ie equal treatment and recognition by the law, it is very similar to being ranked as a second class citizen or worse. Similar to how the Nazis treated the Jews, wouldn’t you say? If someone took away any of your rights, you’d be a little more passionate. Oh, and by the way… The courts didn’t overstep their bounds, they held up their responsibily in the checks and balances system that is our government. Pick up a text book sometime and do more than look at the pretty pictures.

    1. Thank you. I was trying to think of a concise way to put that, myself. When a group of people is singled out and denied basic human rights, I think comparison to Nazi Germany is a pretty fair assesment.

      1. Basic human rights? Is it a basic human right to marry whomever you please? Can you marry your father? Can you marry your brother? Can you marry two people at once? If it is unjust to prevent two men from marrying, is it unjust to prevent brothers from marrying?

      2. I’m trying to remember when homosexuals had their property stolen, were rounded up and incarcerated, and then gassed by the U.S. government.

        No they were just told you can’t redefine marriage to mean something that it isn’t. Yes, some comparison.

    2. Sure they did. The legislated from the bench ergo overstepped their bounds. They can strike down any law they want sure, but they can’t change a law. Which is what they did saying homosexual couples can marry. The Iowa Code pre-DOMA didn’t allow that which is what the law would fall back to when a law is declared unconstitutional.

      You obviously need a Government class. What they did would have been akin to the Judge who ruled Obamacare unconstitutional then inserting reforms he felt was appropriate.

      Also, there is no inalienable right to marriage and its redefinition. Nazis stole Jews’ property, placed them in concentration camps,performed experiments on them, and then gassed them.

      So no, there is no comparison. It’s insulting to even suggest it. I have no problem with homosexuals having equal rights, but what they want are special rights.

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