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Iowa Supreme Court Justices Ousted for Marriage Equality Ruling

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Three of Iowa's Supreme Court Justices were up for a retention vote in Iowa on Tuesday. NOM spent millions trying to oust them after their unanimous Supreme Court ruling granting Same Sex marriage equality. Sadly, the judges were punished for simply saying that all Iowans are equal under the state constitution.

That's not the only bad news coming out of Iowa. Terry Branstad overtook pro equality Chuck Culver for Governor. During the Iowa gubernatorial debates Terry Branstad made it very clear he thinks Iowans should vote on marriage equality.

Republicans in the legislature will have to pass a constitutional amendment two years in a row before Iowa's voters will have a chance to take away equality, or do what's right and solidify equality for years to come.

Clearly after Tuesday's results, One Iowa has their work cut out for them. They worked tirelessly to protect the Justices, but competing against NOM's seemingly bottomless pits of cash is difficult for a small state equality org. As a community we need to support One Iowa so they can protect marriage equality during the next three years. If we do not invest in Iowa now, marriage equality could be over in America's heartland.

The Justices issued the following joint statement:

It was our great privilege to serve the people of Iowa for many years. Throughout our judicial service we endeavored to serve the people of Iowa by always adhering to the rule of law, making decisions fairly and impartially according to the law, and faithfully upholding the constitution.

We wish to thank all of the Iowans who voted to retain us for another term. Your support shows that many Iowans value fair and impartial courts. We also want to acknowledge and thank all the Iowans, from across the political spectrum and from different walks of life, who worked tirelessly over the past few months to defend Iowa's high-caliber court system against an unprecedented attack by out-of-state special interest groups.

Finally, we hope Iowans will continue to support Iowa's merit selection system for appointing judges. This system helps ensure that judges base their decisions on the law and the Constitution and nothing else. Ultimately, however, the preservation of our state's fair and impartial courts will require more than the integrity and fortitude of individual judges, it will require the steadfast support of the people.

Chief Justice Marsha Ternus
Associate Justice Michael Streit
Associate Justice David Baker

One Iowa Executive Director issued the following statement

Friends,

On April 3, 2009, Iowans celebrated a historic Iowa Supreme Court decision that granted the freedom to marry to gay and lesbian couples. This ruling continued a long tradition of recognizing equal rights for all Iowans. It was a hard fought victory and we knew we would have to work very hard to protect it in the years ahead. Over the past year and a half Iowans have fought off and beaten back every attempt to diminish this ruling.

In this election, three of the courageous justices who recognized the freedom to marry in Iowa fell victim to a perfect storm of electoral discontent and out-of-state special interest money. In addition, many of our pro-equality allies from Governor Culver to statehouse candidates lost their seats due to an anti-incumbent mood that swept the nation. We thank them for their distinguished service and we look forward to working with our newly elected legislature and Governor in the weeks and months ahead.

While the full implications of these election results remain to be seen, one thing remains the same. The freedom to marry in Iowa remains intact.

In the months and weeks ahead we can expect renewed attempts to overturn the freedom to marry and write discrimination into the Iowa Constitution. It will take a concerted and collective effort on the part of pro-equality Iowans to respond to these attacks and defend our liberties. We hope you'll join us.

This is no time to be discouraged. While our fight may be tireless, our mission is clear. Together, we will protect marriage equality and preserve Iowa's long tradition of equal rights for all.

With Gratitude,

Carolyn Jenison,
Executive Director

The Courage Campaign and Human Rights Campaign were quick to point out that NOM's goal was to intimidate judges throughout the country.

NOM's president Brian Brown has admitted (here) that his group's effort in Iowa's judicial election was actually about intimidating judges around the country into ruling against equality for millions of loving American families. In Iowa, NOM spent an unprecedented $600,000 on TV ads and a 45-county bus tour. Despite NOM's mean-spirited and fear-driven campaign, same-sex marriage remains legal in Iowa.

"By their own admission, NOM's Iowa strategy was about sending a warning shot to judges nationwide," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "NOM and its secret donors will target judges around the country if they rule in favor of marriage equality and will foster an anti-gay, hostile environment in the process."