The Des Moines Register reported that someone asked Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds about her stance on same-sex marriage during a press conference. She said the issue has been settled.
Why would someone ask that? Well, it’s Pride Month so the media has to shine a light on where Republican officials stand on the issue because these hateful, homophobic Republicans still have a same-sex marriage repeal in their platform.
The Republican Party of Iowa’s Platform currently addresses the LGBTQ agenda and marriage.
Plank #1 under the “Life” section reads in part, “We reaffirm our support for appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of life.”
Plank #2 under the “Life” section reads, “We support an amendment to both the U.S. and the Iowa Constitutions defining and supporting the honored institution of marriage as the legal union between one natural man and one natural woman.”
Plank #3 under “Life” reads, “We encourage the repeal of any laws allowing any marriage that is not between one natural man and one natural woman.”
Plank #5 under the “Liberty” section deals with religious conscience protection with sexual orientation/gender identity laws even though it does not explicitly state that. It reads, “We support ‘Conscience Clause’ legislation so that no person, business, or organization can be penalized for its exercise of religious freedom by not providing services that violates their religious beliefs.”
Plank #8 under the “Liberty” section reads, “We call for the repeal of sexual orientation in the Iowa Civil Rights Code and reject any additional similar legislation to Local, State or National Code.”
The Des Moines Register reports that the proposed platform contains two planks addressing marriage:
The first reads, “We believe that traditional two parent (one male and one female), marriage-based families are the foundation to a stable, enduring, and healthy civilization. Therefore, public policy must always be pro-family in nature, encouraging marital and family commitment, and support of the parental rights and responsibilities.”
The second reads, “We encourage the repeal of any laws allowing marriage that is not between one natural man and one natural woman.”
I have not seen the proposed platform, so I don’t know if there is more. The second statement is a repeat of what was in the 2016 platform. The first statement is slightly new language, but similar sentiments have been expressed in the platform before.
From my point of view, this is weaker than what the 2016 platform states because there is no mention, reported by The Register anyway, of amending the U.S. and Iowa Constitutions. The statement about repealing laws that allow anything that is not traditional marriage is meaningless. Why?
Because there are no explicit laws in the Iowa Code or U.S. Constitution that explicitly allows same-sex marriage.
There have been court decisions that struck down Defense of Marriage Acts: The Iowa Supreme Court struck down Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act in 2009 in their Varnum decision. The U.S. Supreme Court did the same with the federal DOMA law in 2015 with their Obergefell ruling that brought same-sex marriage to all 50 states.
William Petroski reporting on Reynolds’ answer wrote:
Reynolds told reporters during her weekly news conference that the Republican Party’s platform is a grassroots document that the state’s Republicans work on, but it is not something that every candidate has to abide by.
“It is is kind of an overarching goal of what the party is working on,” Reynolds said of the party’s platform. She added that her focus during her campaign will be on moving the state forward and providing career opportunities for young Iowans. She spoke at the Career Academy of Pella, where she discussed efforts to expand registered apprenticeship programs in Iowa.
When asked to explain her stance on same-sex marriage, Reynolds replied, “I think that’s been determined,” a reference to the state and federal court rulings on the issue. When pressed again on the question, she said that people have traditional views on what they believe marriage consists of, and they have every right to have those views, but that the issue has been decided by the courts.
Reynolds also said that a vote of the people on the issue would stop “this back and forth” debate over the matter. She did not say when or how that vote should take place.
But Reynolds’ press secretary, Brenna Smith, clarified the governor’s comments after the news conference, saying: “The governor believes that this issue is settled.”
This is not how I would have answered this question, but as much as it may pain some of us to admit, she is not wrong. It’s settled in three ways.
First, legally, it’s settled. Obergefell’s ruling was overarching, so there is not any wiggle room. Until the makeup of the Supreme Court has changed, it’s doubtful that they would reverse themselves. Trying to push another state law or state constitutional amendment to be challenged in federal court until there is a change on the Supreme Court would be pointless.
In fact, in the past two sessions of the Iowa Legislature, there were no bills offered to amend the Iowa Constitution to define marriage between one man and one woman.
Until there is a change on the Court, our only recourse is a federal constitutional amendment either to define marriage in the Constitution or return the decision to the states which will a challenging lift because of public opinion. I don’t like it, but it is what it is. This is what Reynolds meant.
Secondly, among public opinion, it is pretty much settled. Gallup recently released a poll that shows two out of three Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legally valid. I’ve seen various polls with some being closer than this, but all show popular culture is headed in the wrong direction to enact change. We need to focus on winning hearts and minds. From a Christian point of view, this means sharing the Gospel and seeing the Gospel transform hearts, lives, and eventually, with discipleship, worldviews. This is the front where we need to focus if we ever hope to see change politically or legally.
Thirdly, from the Bible’s perspective, it’s also settled. The Bible is explicitly clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. Because of this, there will always be opposition to same-sex marriage among those who are faithful to scripture. This opposition may not always come in the form of bills or political party platform planks but, at the very least, means resisting the push toward coerced conformity. Will Reynolds protect Iowans’ right to conscience when given the opportunity? It’s one thing to believe Iowans have the right to believe what they want about marriage, but can they exercise those beliefs as well?
Reynolds, when asked about same-sex marriage, gave the pragmatic political non-answer. She never said what her personal stance is.
The question placed Reynolds in a no-win, irrelevant situation, designed to either put her in opposition with the grassroots or to paint her as an extreme homophobe when in fact the Governor of Iowa can do very little, especially now, to address this issue.