Iowa Senate Chambers
Iowa Senate Chambers

The Iowa Senate Education Committee is vetting Governor Terry Branstad’s nominee for the Iowa Board of Regents, Robert Cramer.  The hearing was rather contentious which is rather unusual for an Iowa Senate confirmation hearing.  Leading the charge are State Senators Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames) and Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines)   Cramer’s crime?  He’s the chairman of the board for The FAMiLY Leader, an organization that is well known for its stand against gay marriage and has addressed concerns about the advancement of a LGBT agenda with a recent bullying conference.

Apparently the new criteria on whether somebody can serve on the Iowa Board of Regents is to agree with homosexuality.  Fascinating.  What great example of tolerance that is being shown by Iowa Senate Democrats on the committee, in particular, State Senators Quirmbach and McCoy.

According to Radio Iowa, State Senator Quirmbach said, “You know, over the last decade a lot of people have, let’s say, evolved in their views with regard to sexual orientation and gay rights.  I was not persuaded today that he has.”

So you have to be “evolved” in order to serve on the Iowa Board of Regents.

State Senator McCoy was even worse in his criticism of Kramer.  As reported by Radio Iowa said that Cramer would bring “political poison.”  He went on to say, “You do have some very, very conservative and very outspoken views.  You have taken positions that are far outside the norm.”

Other than his stance on marriage, Kramer when serving on the Johnston School Board advocated for parents who did not want their kids forced to read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou because of some the crude and offensive content.

I’m curious as to why this is controversial… State Senator McCoy should parents not have the ability to opt their kids out?  If you have sizable group who is concerned about the book can the school not find an alternative for the curriculum?  Isn’t this how local control in education is supposed to work?  You bring a concern to your school board members and they act on it?

McCoy received letters from the Johnston School District (doesn’t say how many, it could only be two as far as I know), and Kramer said this incident that is “the only thing people are talking about out of those nine years (that he served)” has been blown out of proportion.

I’m also curious why Johnston residents would decide to just send letters to State Senator McCoy?  He doesn’t even represent them and isn’t the only member of the education committee.  Did anybody else receive these letters?

State Senator McCoy also said, “There are concerns about your lightning-rod politics that you bring into the process.”

So apparently you have to be against parental involvement and control in K-12 education in order to serve on the Iowa Board of Regents.

“Positions that are outside the norm.”  “Lightning-rod politics.”  “Political poison.”  Kramer’s position on marriage is not outside the norm at all.  If it truly were then we’d see State Senator Mike Gronstall allowing a vote on the marriage amendment because he’d be confident it would be shot down – either in the Senate or by the people of Iowa.

“Lighting-rod” politics – I didn’t realize that the Board of Regents was about the advancement of the LGBT agenda or the promotion of gay marriage.  Also in regards to the Angelou book don’t you think Kramer would have a different perspective when it comes to college-aged adults reading that book compared to high school students?  I know I view that differently.

I know this is the type hearing that State Senator McCoy would bemoan and in fact did bemoan when there was an openly gay state board of education nominee (Jonathan Wilson, if memory serves) going through the confirmation process a few years ago.  The difference was that the statements of protest were coming from outside of the committee, not from the members themselves.

Yesterday’s hearing and the comments made by State Senators Quirmbach and McCoy are outrageous and beneath the elected office they hold.

Photo Credit: Jason Mrachina via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

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  1. Shane, this column is risible. Quirmbach and McCoy are doing their jobs as state senators by resisting Cramer’s nominatuion to the Board of Regents. Cramer is not worthy of holding a position of public trust: he endangered the independence of Iowa’s judiciary, even though he cannot make a credible claim under constitutional law to deny lesbians and gays civil marriage rights. Why should he be trusted to oversee Regents’ institutions when he has clearly shown he will abuse political power? Why must I and others be “tolerant” by letting you people run roughshod over OUR freedoms and constitutional rights?

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