Excerpts of Gay marriage opponents now targeting Iowa by Michael J. Crumb, Associated Press Writer
The National Organization for Marriage has launched the Reclaim Iowa Project, targeting legislative races in the state in an effort to elect candidates who support putting the issue of gay marriage before voters.
"Iowa is important because the Supreme Court decision was so against the will of the people of Iowa and the Legislature and Gov. (Chet) Culver showed absolutely no backbone in giving the people the right to have their voices heard," said Brian Brown, the organization's executive director.
The group's effort is beginning with a Sept. 1 special election in southeastern Iowa's House District 90, where Republican Stephen Burgmeier is running against Democrat Curt Hanson for the seat vacated when Democratic Rep. John Whitaker resigned to take a job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The organization has endorsed Burgmeier and spent $90,000 on television and radio ads supporting him, Brown said. The ads began airing Monday.
Burgmeier said he has never talked to anyone from the National Organization for Marriage.
"They may have heard about me and what I stand for and they've taken advantage of that to get their message out," he said. "They seem to have the same core value I have ... but I had no knowledge of them being interested in this race."
Brown's group was the main supporter of California's Proposition 8, which overturned a state Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage. The organization also has been active with similar campaigns in Maine, New York, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Brad Clark, campaign director for One Iowa, a local affiliate of Lambda Legal, said his group launched an online petition Wednesday asking the National Organization for Marriage to release a list of its contributors. NOM and other groups that sponsored Proposition 8 had sought to block their campaign finance records from public view, saying previous reports led to the harassment of donors.
Clark singled out the Mormon church, which has been criticized by gay rights activists for urging its members to donate to California's "Yes on 8" campaign, a move that pulled in tens of millions of dollars.
"They (NOM) and the Mormon church (have) invested millions of dollars and now they have their sights set on Iowa," he said. "They have been funneling money from the Mormon church into these activities and we're encouraging our friends and supporters to call on NOM to release a list of those donors."
Brown said his group would not disclose its list of donors, citing its status as a nonprofit organization.
He rejected the idea that the anti-gay marriage campaign was directly tied to the Mormon church.