GOP senator faces censure from multiple local party orgs for voting for marriage bill

Sen. Joni Ernst
Sen. Joni Ernst Photo: Senate portrait

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is the latest Republican facing censure from a local party organization due to her support for the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA).

“I don’t agree with the censure,” she said yesterday. “But I will say that I stand by my vote, and I hope that more people will actually read the bill and understand we have just improved upon religious liberty protections, not just in Iowa, but across the United States.”

According to the Des Moines Register, several county Republican parties are considering resolutions to condemn or censure her over her vote for a bill that would require the federal government and state governments to recognize same-sex and interracial marriages performed in other states.

The counties include Des Moines, Guthrie, Ida, Mahaska, Pocahontas, Van Buren, and Wright counties.

“Whereas marriage is the sacred lifelong union between a man and a woman,” said the Des Moines County Republicans’ censure resolution against Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks last month. Miller-Meeks voted for the RMA in the House.

“Whereas the same sex ‘marriage’ is a ‘slippery slope’ that will undoubtedly lead to the recognition of polygamous and incestuous unions because it degrades morality to an object that is only based on consent,” the resolution – which misspelled Miller-Meeks’s name – also stated.

Ernst responded that she hopes “more people will actually read the bill and understand we have just improved upon religious liberty protections, not just in Iowa, but across the United States.”

“What they’re doing is censuring me for maintaining the status quo and actually providing greater religious freedoms for everyone across the United States of America,” she said.

Ernst is one of 12 Republicans in the Senate to vote in favor of the RMA last month, helping the bill to get past the filibuster. With 50 Democrats in the Senate, at least ten Republicans are needed to vote for progressive legislation to pass it.

Proponents of the RMA say it is necessary since the Supreme Court overturned the federal right to an abortion in Roe v. Wade this past June in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, using legal reasoning that could be applied to end marriage equality. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion that the Court should “reconsider” Obergefell in light of its decision in Dobbs.

The Cass County, Indiana Republican Party voted to censure Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), who was another of the 12 Senate Republicans to vote for the bill.

“This bill enshrines and codifies in Federal law an incorrect understanding of marriage, further embedding it in the American legal fabric,” the letter of censure states. “It will enable and encourage litigation against those who disagree and hold a traditional understanding of the union. It opens the door to further degradation of marriage such as recognition of polygamous relationships.”

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