Two groups that disagree whether the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage violates the state constitution visited Marshalltown Wednesday afternoon to make their voices heard.
The dueling groups "NO Wiggins," named for Justice David Wiggins who was one of the seven State Supreme Court Justices who interpreted the law, and "Yes Iowa Judges" both spoke in Susie Sower Park, 60 N. Second Ave.
"NO Wiggins" touted a lineup consisting of the chair and co-chair for Iowans for Freedom, a group formed in 2010 specifically to remove the seven justices who handed down the gay marriage ruling, a spokesperson from Patriot Voices, started by former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum and his wife, Karen, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
T-R PHOTO BY DAVID ALEXANDER
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, talks in Suzy Sower Park Wednesday afternoon during a “NO Wiggins” campaign event. The “NO Wiggins” movement is traveling across the state bemoaning Justice David Wiggins for, they say, overstepping his authority by aiding in an Iowa State Supreme Court ruling that allowed same-sex marriage in 2009.
"Yes Iowa Judges" countered shortly after with Dan Moore, former president of the Iowa State Bar Association and Sioux City attorney. Local council member and attorney Joel Greer introduced Moore to a diminutive crowd following the "NO Wiggins" rally, which had about 35 people in attendance.
Advocates for voting out Wiggins called him an activist judge who changed Iowa law by allowing same-sex marriage.
"If he wants to make law, he needs to do it by running for the legislature," Jindal said. "Today it's marriage. Tomorrow, it might be property rights or gun rights."
However, Moore said this claim by "NO Wiggins" advocates is a misnomer. Voting against retention for Wiggins will change nothing, he said. It will not overturn the legality of same-sex marriage in Iowa.
Moore said Wiggins and the other Justices responsible for the decision were simply interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the state constitution when they applied the provision during the Varnum vs. Brien ruling. If anything, he said, removing judges weakens the judicial system.
"They did what the separation of powers called for - applied the constitution," he said. "The courts are protectors of liberty."
Kim Lehman, a spokesperson for Patriot Voices, called the decision "shameless."
"NO Wiggins" supporters said the issue is not a partisan one. Lehman said the decision affects people of both genders from every education level, religious faith and race because it sets precedent for judges to undermine other civil liberties.
But Bob Moore, of Marshalltown, who was one of the few people present for both presentations, disagrees. He said the topic is a partisan one.
He said judges should not be slaves to public opinion.
His wife, Linda, said hearing both sides one after the other allowed her to make her own decisions on the matter without having to listen to a convoluted back-and-forth between two parties.
Bob Vander Plaats, chair of Iowans for Freedom, said Wiggins and the other justices who found in favor of same-sex marriage have a clear agenda: to protect a man-made institution, i.e., the Iowa State Bar Association.
They should instead focus on upholding God's natural law, he added. After all, he said even one decision - like the Dread Scott or Roe vs. Wade decisions - can have resounding effects that last into perpetuity.
Deanna Adams, of Marshalltown, said the issue is an emotional one for her.
"I don't think judges should have the right to decide for us on the marriage issue or other constitutional issues," she said.
Still, Moore said "NO Wiggins" supporters are polemicists who are using scare tactics to attempt to distract from the real issue. The Iowa courts did not impose same-sex marriage, he said. They simply followed their sworn oath.
"We are calling for all Iowans to reject prejudice," Moore said.
The two buses are touring the state in an attempt to make their positions known.