Iowa Democrats are 'gay-marriage party,' Republican Party chair says

Democratic leader says GOP 'fighting battles that Iowans have long since settled'

The leader of the Republican Party of Iowa drew a clear distinction Friday for Iowa voters looking ahead to a high-profile election in 2014, telling them that Democrats are the “gay-marriage party.”

Appearing on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” show, GOP state party chairman A.J. Spiker, 33, of Ames, said his party “wants to be welcoming and we’re a big tent and we want to have people of a lot of different views that are part of the party.

“But what they also need to understand is that there is a gay marriage party in the state of Iowa and that’s the Iowa Democratic Party. The Republican Party embraces one-man, one-woman marriage and embraces the right of the people to vote on the definition of marriage,” he added.

Spiker was responding to a question about concerns from a group of Iowa Republicans who worry their party will continue to lose with younger voters who embrace marriage rights for same-sex couples if Republicans aren’t more accepting of gay marriage, or at least not make it the central point of their political campaigns.

After the IPTV taping, Tyler Olson, 36, a state representative for Cedar Rapids who recently was named Iowa Democratic Party state chairman, said Iowa Republicans are engaged in “infighting about whether they’re going to be a party that stands for equal protection under the law,” while his party is focused on mainstream issues like jobs, the economy and strengthening the middle class that are important to Iowans’ daily lives.

“This is just another example of the Republican Party fighting battles that Iowans have long since settled,” said Olson.

The Cedar Rapids Democrat said the Iowa Supreme Court “settled” the gay-marriage issue in April 2009 when seven justices unanimously ruled that a state law defining marriage as only between one man and one woman was unconstitutional – paving the way for two people of the same gender to enter into legal civil marriages with the same protections as opposite-sex couples. He said Democrats’ inclusive view was validated by voters who re-elected Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

“We have totally different principles. We have a totally different outlook on the world,” Olson said. “Democrats I think understand the reality of the world we live in and are focused on issues that are important to everyday Iowans. The Republican Party continues to fight these tired political battles that Iowans have settled. It’s settled. We need to move forward, and the leader of the Republican Party is not ready to do that.”

Spiker said the GOP state platform clearly states the Iowa party’s opposition to same-sex marriage and that’s the party’s position, even through their may be Iowa Republicans who hold a different or opposing view.

“We have Republicans who are union members that may not agree with us on our plank on Right to Work, but they’re still Republicans,” he noted.

Both chairmen gave their political parties favorable chances in the 2014 election with an open U.S. Senate seat and the governorship at the top of the ballot.

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