DES MOINES, Iowa — Hundreds of gay marriage opponents gathered at the Iowa state capitol on Tuesday, where they prayed, sang and lobbied lawmakers to approve a ballot referendum to overturn the state’s marriage equality law.
The rally was organized by Iowa anti-gay luminary Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Family Leader, a conservative traditional values organization that organized a successful effort that resulted in the 2010 voter recall of three Iowa supreme court justices who, in 2009, ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.
Vander Plaats is hoping the rally will pressure Senate Democrats into considering the ballot measure, which has been blocked from consideration by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal.
“If we want marriage equality, let’s just stop for a second. Why stop at same-sex marriage? Why not have polygamy? Why not have a dad marry his son or marry his daughter? If we’re going to have marriage equality, let’s open this puppy up and let’s have marriage equality,” he said.
“Otherwise, let’s stick to the way God designed it – one man and one woman, period.”
Vander Plaats was joined by National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown, who argued that making the civil rights of a minority subject to a popular vote is in line with the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., suggesting that it was the opponents of same-sex marriage whose civil rights were being threatened.
“We hear that this is about civil rights, and that those of us who oppose the redefinition of marriage are somehow bigots,” Brown said. “And yet, what Dr. Martin Luther King called the most important civil right – the right to vote – these very same folks are trying to deprive us of this right.”
Shortly after the opponents’ rally, supporters of same-sex marriage met outside the Statehouse and warned that overturning Iowa’s marriage equality law would be a huge step backward for civil rights.
“The truth needs to be told, Bob Vander Plaats needs to get a real job instead of working to spread a message of hate and discrimination,” said openly gay state Sen. Matt McCoy.
Iowa is one of only six states, along with the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is currently legal.