This past April, history was made when the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously voted to uphold the right for gay and lesbian couples to marry in their state. They wrote in their decision that their state’s statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. While LGBT advocates celebrated, they were still aware that anti-gay activists were gearing up to undermine this landmark victory. They were right. The Sioux City Journal reported today that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM)―a New Jersey-based anti-gay organization―has crossed state lines to launch their Reclaim Iowa Project. Their campaign is targeting legislative races in hopes to elect candidates who will support putting marriage equality up for a vote on future ballots.
The group's effort is beginning with a Sept. 1 special election in southeastern Iowa's House District 90, where Republican Stephen Burgmeier is running against Democrat Curt Hanson for the seat vacated when Democratic Rep. John Whitaker resigned to take a job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The organization has endorsed Burgmeier and spent $90,000 on television and radio ads supporting him, Brown said. The ads began airing Monday.NOM is not new to organizing and rallying against marriage for gay couples. They were a main supporter of California's Proposition 8 and took part in similar campaigns in Maine, New York, New Hampshire and Vermont. TheLos Angeles Times reported on August 24 that NOM is expanding their fundraising efforts outside of Iowa.
Brian Brown -- who spearheaded the National Organization for Marriage's efforts in California, and is now the group's executive director -- also wrote supporters that donations could be used nationwide, to “allow us to rapidly intervene … in key races across the country where a handful of House or Senate seats could make the difference between whether a same-sex marriage bill or state marriage amendment passes or fails.”One Iowa, the statewide organization that was a key player in pushing public awareness around this ruling, is fighting back and asking its constituents to take action. They stated the following in a call for action:
This week the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) started flooding rural Iowa with nearly $90,000 worth of ads trying to scare Iowans into voting for an anti-gay legislative candidate. It takes some nerve for a New Jersey-based group, with ties to the Mormon Church to fund a "Reclaim Iowa" project on behalf of wealthy out-of-state extremists. NOM doesn't want you to know who is behind these efforts and they pledge to shield their donors from outside scrutiny by refusing to release this information. Take Action: Demand that NOM disclose those funding these attacks! This is not an isolated effort, but an organized, well-funded, full-throated assault on civil marriage equality across the country. The same extremists that bankrolled ballot initiative efforts in Maine and California are now spending money to buy an election in Iowa.NOM has a history of funneling money from the Mormon Church into anti-gay measures, while refusing to disclose the source of their funds. Voters deserve to know who is behind these anti-gay campaigns across the country! NOM refers to their Iowa campaign as a "targeted intervention" into Iowa politics. With less than a week to go until election day, voters are being bombarded with negative ads funded by out-of-state extremists. We can't let NOM win this election and use it as a blueprint to elect anti-gay candidates and overturn marriage in Iowa and across the country. Don't let them get away with it!One Iowa is urging for their supporters to sign a petition demanding a full disclosure of NOM’s anti-gay funding. Sign the petition here. Prior to and during the ruling, GLAAD worked extensively on the ground to raise awareness around the issue. Back in April, we emailed our members urging them to support One Iowa. GLAAD also served as media liaison for One Iowa and worked with local journalists, bloggers and newspapers to ensure fair and accurate coverage of the ruling. We also provided media trainings to numerous couples who were married in Iowa and wanted to share their story with the press. GLAAD will continue keeping up with the latest developments around this issue.