One simple question, three non-answers on Iowa gay marriage

Everyone who moderates a debate this year could learn from the journalists who guided the May 1 Iowa Republican gubernatorial candidates' debate: Todd Dorman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Paul Yeager of Iowa Public Television, and Jeneane Beck of Iowa Public Radio. Too many journalists ask long-winded questions that are easy to evade, or ask about hot topics of no lasting importance, or ask about policies outside the scope of the office the candidates are seeking. In contrast, almost every question the panelists asked during Saturday's debate was direct and addressed an issue the next governor of Iowa will face.

Mind you, asking an unambiguous question doesn't guarantee that you'll get a straight answer from a politician. Look what happened when Dorman asked the Republicans, "Can you identify one tangible way Iowa has been harmed during a full year of legal same-sex marriage?"

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One simple question, three non-answers on Iowa gay marriage

Everyone who moderates a debate this year could learn from the journalists who guided the May 1 Iowa Republican gubernatorial candidates' debate: Todd Dorman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Paul Yeager of Iowa Public Television, and Jeneane Beck of Iowa Public Radio. Too many journalists ask long-winded questions that are easy to evade, or ask about hot topics of no lasting importance, or ask about policies outside the scope of the office the candidates are seeking. In contrast, almost every question the panelists asked during Saturday's debate was direct and addressed an issue the next governor of Iowa will face.

Mind you, asking an unambiguous question doesn't guarantee that you'll get a straight answer from a politician. Look what happened when Dorman asked the Republicans, "Can you identify one tangible way Iowa has been harmed during a full year of legal same-sex marriage?"

There's more...

IA-Gov: Roundup of recent news

It's been a while since I posted a diary here about the Iowa governor's race.

Follow me after the jump for more than you probably wanted to know.

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IA-Sen: Could Grassley face a primary challenge from the right?

Angry social conservatives are speculating that Senator Chuck Grassley could face a primary challenge in 2010. The religious right has been dissatisfied with Grassley for a long time (see here and here).

After the Iowa Supreme Court struck down the state's Defense of Marriage Act, Grassley issued a statement saying he supported "traditional marriage" and had backed federal legislation and a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. But when hundreds of marriage equality opponents rallied at the state capitol last Thursday, and Republicans tried to bring a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to the Iowa House floor, Grassley refused to say whether he supported their efforts to change Iowa's constitution:

"You better ask me in a month, after I've had a chance to think," Grassley, the state's senior Republican official, said after a health care forum in Mason City.

Wingnut Bill Salier, who almost won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in 2002, says conservatives are becoming "more and more incensed [the] more they start to pay attention to how far [Grassley] has drifted."

Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn denies that party activists are unhappy with Grassley. I hope Salier is right and Grassley gets a primary challenge, for reasons I'll explain after the jump.

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Walking the Plank: The GOP Dives Off the Deep End of Crazy

To get a full sense of just how extreme the Republican Party has become in its radical right wing agenda, one really has to look at some of the planks being endorsed by the various state GOP parties in their platforms. 

Walking the Plank in Texas

The 2010 Texas State Republican Party Platform (pdf) has a rather peculiar and particular obsession with homosexuality. It just can't stop talking about the threats gays and lesbians pose to society.

Family Values – We affirm that this section is a response to the attacks on traditional family values. These include well- funded, vigorous political and judicial attempts by powerful organizations and branches of the government to force acceptance, affirmation and normalization of homosexual behavior upon school children, parents, educational institutions, businesses, employees, government bodies and religious institutions and charities. These aggressive, intolerant efforts marginalize as bigots anyone who dissents.

Marriage and Divorce – We believe in the sanctity of marriage and that the integrity of this institution should be protected at all levels of government. We urge the Legislature to rescind no–fault divorce laws. We support Covenant Marriage.

Marriage Licenses – We support legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for such.

Homosexuality – We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, refuse to recognize, or grant special privileges including, but not limited to: marriage between persons of the same sex (regardless of state of origin), custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

Texas Sodomy Statutes – We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.

The Texas GOP is also against allowing gays and lesbians to adopt though they are for "eliminating bureaucratic prohibitions on corporal discipline and home schooling in foster homes to help alleviate the shortage of foster parents." Even more stringent, they "believe that no homosexual or any individual convicted of child abuse or molestation should have the right to custody" of a child. In essence, they are saying that gay parent of a child can be denied the right to visit his or her own child even if conceived the old fashioned way. On that note, the Texas GOP is opposed to any sex education other than abstinence until heterosexual marriage.

And with no hint of irony, it manages to put these planks back-to-back:

Equality of All Citizens – We deplore all discrimination. We also deplore forced sensitivity training and urge repeal of any mandate requiring it. We urge immediate repeal of the Hate Crimes Law. Until the Hate Crimes Law is totally repealed, we urge the Legislature to immediately remove the education curriculum mandate and the sexual orientation category in said Law.

Boy Scouts of America – We support the Boy Scouts of America and reject any attempt to undermine or fundamentally change the ideals of the organization.

Much of the rest of the Texas GOP platform is standard boilerplate conservative positions calling for the privatization of social security, denying all benefits to all illegal aliens including schooling for the children of illegal aliens. They affirm that "America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles" and "that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength." They view the separation of church and state as a "myth" which they pledge to dispel.

Walking the Plank in South Carolina

The South Carolina State Republican Party Platform (pdf) runs 30 pages covering normal conservative red meat issues such judicial activism (they deplore "the social engineering and 'legislating' from the bench that the judicial activism" has encouraged) and states' rights (they are greatly alarmed by " the continual erosion of states’ rights guaranteed in the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution and the regular usurpation of state prerogatives by the national government") but they delve into other less frequented positions as well.

The South Carolina Republican Party condemns the publication and consumption of obscene, pornographic and sexually violent material, as a major contributor to moral decay and a fundamental threat to our domestic tranquility. We favor legislation to prohibit the distribution of obscenity and pornography by print, telephone, television, video, computer, the Internet, or any other means. The Party believes that obscenity and pornography as defined by state law are not protected under the First Amendment. We urge the state of South Carolina and all of its municipalities to strictly enforce all existing laws against obscenity and pornography.

We applaud cultural sensitivity but oppose “multi-culturalism” as being divisive.

We support traditional, family-oriented, parent-approved sex education in our schools that is based on Judeo-Christian principles. We affirm the rightness and practicality of abstinence-based programs that encourage postponing sexual activity until marriage. We reject contraceptive distribution to students and school- based “health clinics.” Although we support tolerance, we do not agree that unnatural or unhealthy sexual practices ought to be legitimized or promoted in the classroom. Clubs and observances that are based on sexual orientation are inappropriate for academic institutions.

Citizens must recognize that the “pursuit of happiness” is not a license for all forms of hedonism, violence, and irresponsibility. We readily recognize that character counts, and private choices often have public consequences. Unfortunately, these points seem tragically lost on President Barack H. Obama and the Democratic Party.

This from a state whose Republican governor lied to his wife, four sons, and staff not to the people of the Palmetto state so he could spend time with his mistress in Buenos Aires. As per public consequences, a panel of lawmakers did vote to rebuke Mark Sanford for disgracing the office, but they stopped short of impeachment.

And while the South Carolina GOP makes the requisite calls for fiscal prudence and balance budget, it isn't against all Federal spending. They support "federal efforts to scientifically challenge the (Alfred) Kinseyan model of American Human sexuality, which, since 1948, has propagated as 'normal' an indiscriminate and promiscuous view of human sexual behavior."

The South Carolina GOP also call for the reversal of  Roe v. Wade via a "Constitutional Human Life Amendment."

Walking the Plank in Wyoming

The Wyoming Republican Party Platform (pdf) spends perhaps not surprisingly a lot of time on issues surrounding the management of Federal lands (48 percent of the land in Wyoming is owned by the Federal Government). They call for "the responsible, private sector development of all Wyoming’s natural resources," they support "the multiple-use of public lands" and even venture into the topic of "elk feed grounds" (they support their continuation) but apparently pornography must a serious problem in the Equality State because Wyoming Republicans call for "vigorous enforcement of laws" against pornography twice.

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