DES MOINES — Iowa’s Republican Governor Terry Branstad on Monday said “there’s no connection at all between Iowa’s debate over gay marriage rights and the death of Waterloo teen Marcellus Andrews.”
“I think it’s inappropriate to try to link these two,” Branstad added, during his weekly press conference at the state capitol.
Branstad’s comment was in response to a Des Moines Register reporter who, noting that Andrews’ homicide might have been related to his sexual orientation, asked the Governor what he thought his role should be in controlling the substance and tone for the debate over LGBT rights, given the increasingly vitriolic rhetoric on the issue of same-sex marriage in Iowa.
“I think it’s inappropriate to try to link these two,” Branstad said.
“The fact of the matter is, we need to protect the health, safety and well-being of all the citizens, regardless – if somebody is murdered, it needs to be investigated and prosecuted and people held responsible for it.
“But I see no link whatsoever and I think it’s inappropriate to try to blame people that are not associated with having committed a crime. I think we need to focus on the people who committed the crime and they need to be brought to justice.”
Andrews, a 19-year-old college student, was brutally beaten in the early morning hours on August 18, and whose attackers, according to witnesses, shouted anti-gay slurs and kicked him in the face.
He died on August 20 in the company of relatives and acquaintances after being removed from life support.
Homicide detectives for the Waterloo police department stressed to reporters that they think Andrews’ beating was prompted after a long-running dispute, and not related to his actual or perceived sexual orientation.
His death has triggered an outcry from LGBTQ equality rights advocacy group One Iowa and other gay rights advocates around the nation.
The Register also noted that “gay marriage has been legal in Iowa since an Iowa Supreme Court ruling in 2009, but social conservatives continue to push the split-controlled Iowa Legislature for the right to vote to change the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.”