Conservative group supporting marriage equality transforms conversation in the state
The conservative group Iowa Republicans for Freedom (IRFF) celebrated one year since its founding in June 2011. A year ago, former Iowa State Senator Jeff Angelo launched the group with the mission of protecting individual liberty, limiting government intrusion, and increasing conservative support for marriage for same-sex couples in Iowa.
“In its first year, Iowa Republicans for Freedom has given voice to Iowans who believe that conservative values of smaller government should keep government out of the private lives of all citizens, including gay and lesbian Iowans,” said Senator Angelo.
Senator Angelo started the organization after publishing an opinion piece in which he detailed his journey from sponsoring an amendment in the Iowa Legislature that would have banned marriage for same-sex couples, to supporting full marriage equality. Since the group launched, 130 new members have joined, and five prominent Iowa Republicans signed on to be a part of the advisory board, including City Council members Jason Gordon of Davenport, Craig Patterson of Grimes, Matt Walsh of Council Bluffs, and Linn County Republican Chair Kathy Potts.
“Since joining Iowa Republicans for Freedom, I have received so much positive feedback from conservatives in Iowa and around the country. Marriage equality is truly a conservative issue,” said Potts. “I believe in the American dream of individual liberty, and what could be more antithetical to that dream than barring someone from marrying the person they love? I know that there are many conservatives who hold the values of fairness and freedom and we need to stand up and make our voices heard. That is why I joined Iowa Republicans for Freedom.”
Conservative support for marriage is growing. Last year, four Republicans in the New York state legislature were crucial votes in the passage of New York’s marriage equality law. Just a few months later, a Republican majority in the New Hampshire House of Representatives defeated an amendment that would have repealed New Hampshire’s marriage equality law. Prominent Republicans have also voiced their support for the freedom to marry, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Bush Administration Solicitor General Ted Olson, first daughter Laura Bush, and former Vice President Dick Cheney. In December, 2011 a New York Times poll found that a majority--58%--of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers supported some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples.
“Looking ahead, I see great things for this organization,” continued Angelo. “I know that the future of marriage equality in this country rests with conservatives as we saw in New York and New Hampshire and here in Iowa. I invite conservatives who truly believe in small government and in individual freedom to stand with us in support of our fellow Iowans.”