I figured the moment would come, sooner or later.
It would be that moment when the outraged crusade to deny civil rights to thousands of gay and lesbian Iowans would finally cease to be good politics. Eventually, the misguided campaign to turn back the clock on marriage equality in Iowa would get clocked.
The judge bus would run out of gas. The “Family Leader” would be an also-ran.
I just wasn’t sure when it would come. Turns out it was Tuesday.
Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins was retained Tuesday by a margin of more than 100,000 votes, despite the best efforts of Bob Vander Plaats, his crew of judge-hunters, and their “No Wiggins” bus, fueled mostly by outside bucks. They picked off three justices in 2010 who joined the unanimous 2009 ruling striking down Iowa’s ban on same-sex marriages. But the hunt is over.
Back in 2010, BVP called it a “historic” victory. Instead, it was a big, loud wake-up call for fair-minded Iowans who don’t buy the tired, fearful and distorted caricatures of an activist court run amok. They showed up Tuesday, turned over their ballots and became the real Iowans for freedom.
At the same time, Democrats held on to narrow control of the Iowa Senate, keeping the drive to put a same-sex marriage ban in the Iowa Constitution bottled up for at least two more years, and likely for good. Target No. 1 for Vander Plaats and his allies, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, held his seat, his title and his power to hold off efforts to amend discrimination into the constitution.
Others were less fortunate. Former Family Leader development director Matt Reisetter narrowly lost his state Senate bid, as did Sen. Merlin Bartz, R-Grafton, who once urged county officials to ignore the court’s ruling and deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Family Leader weighed in to help Bartz and Republicans in several other key Senate races.
Iowa GOP chair A.J. Spiker’s strategy to go all in on ousting Wiggins, with hopes that an agitated base would carry his party to big victories Tuesday, fizzled.
And even if the Iowa Senate didn’t stop it, I bet Iowa voters would. They turned back the anti-retention drive. And after all, our neighbors in Minnesota turned back an amendment banning same-sex marriage ban, while voters in Maine and Maryland voted to make same-sex marriage legal. Another measure in Washington state looks poised for passage. Gay and lesbian candidates won important victories. Our previously “evolving” president, who finally joined this fight, won re-election.
This feels like the turning point, folks. Equality endures. I figured it would.