A couple of Gov.Terry Branstad’s nominees to the Iowa Board of Regents appear to be in trouble, including a Family Leader. From Radio Iowa:
Democrats in the Iowa Senate suggest one of Republican Governor Branstad’s picks for the board that governs the state universities may be too much of a “lightning rod” for controversy. Board of Regents nominee Robert Cramer — a construction company executive — is also chairman of the board for The Family Leader, an organization that seeks to ban same-sex marriage.
“My personal religious beliefs are that we’re created by a loving God, created male and female, and he created marriage and so marriage should be between a man and a woman,” Cramer said today, “but I understand that other people have different views of that.”
Cramer has publicly spoken against what he calls “the homosexual agenda” and celebrated the defeat of three Iowa Supreme Court justices who paved the way for same-sex marriage in Iowa. Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, told reporters he’s concerned Cramer might promote an atmosphere of intolerance on the campuses.
Over at the Iowa Republican, Craig Robinson blames religious intolerance:
The Merriam-Webster dictionary states that the definition of the word tolerance is having, “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.”
Apparently being tolerant of views and beliefs contrary to your own isn’t good enough for some Democrat lawmakers in Iowa. No, if you don’t openly support gay marriage and the homosexual lifestyle you are not capable of serving on the Iowa Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s three public universities.
Iowa State Senator Herman Quirmbach finds Robert Cramer, a Des Moines area businessman who Governor Terry Branstad has appointed to the Board of Regents, to be unacceptable because of his religious views. Quirmbach fears Cramer might promote an atmosphere of intolerance on the campuses.
So, unless you support gay marriage and endorse the homosexual lifestyle, you are not qualified to serve in a volunteer capacity for the state of Iowa. Cramer even stated that he would oppose any policy that would endorse, encourage, or promote any specific behavior on campus because he does not believe that is an appropriate role for a university to take. Yet, while Cramer has proven to be tolerant of others’ views, Democrat legislators have not been so tolerant of his religious views.
Robinson has interesting stuff on the whole Regents saga, so read his post. I’m focusing on Cramer.
I know that everyone on both sides of issues like this likes to pretend that the confirmation process isn’t about politics. That’s absurd, of course. I once watched former Cedar Rapids Mayor Lee Clancey’s nomination to the Iowa
Transportation Racing and Gaming Commission shot down in flames mainly because she crossed party lines to endorse Al Gore in 2000. Republican Senate leaders were downright gleeful as they took their pound of political flesh. So yeah, I think politics figures in occasionally.
And Robinson is a political pro, so I assume he doesn’t believe that religious views don’t have political consequences. If he does, then I’d refer him to the evangelical wing of his own party for a strong second opinion.
Let’s be honest, Cramer was chairman of the board for the Family Leader, which is basically a political organization. It campaigned for the ouster of Iowa Supreme Court Justices. It campaigned for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. It recruits candidates, raises money, makes independent expenditures in legislative races, sponsors political events, creates pledges for presidential candidates to sign. Its founder ran for governor three times.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Its political activity has provided the organization and its leaders with a great deal of ink and influence. But the flip side of playing political hardball is that sometimes a sharp liner comes right back at you. That’s what Cramer is getting in the Senate.
Nominating a Family Leader in this case is basically the same as a Democratic governor sending the nomination of an Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement leader to a Republican Senate. Maybe that ICCI member was inspired to become and activist by Jesus’ ministering to the poor. I doubt that would draw many GOP votes. Nor do I think voting no would be viewed as intolerant.
And I doubt anyone in the governor’s office truly believed Cramer would be confirmed. This is a nice gesture to the religious right by a governor who will be running for re-election next year. And if Democrats vote him down, it will allow Branstad to rail at the intolerance. Could make a nice fundraising appeal.
Should Cramer’s views disqualify him from state service? Of course not. No more than one unpopular ruling should disqualify a Supreme Court Justice from serving on the bench.