Joe Mirabella

Iowa and New Hampshire's equality and the Presidential elections

Filed By Joe Mirabella | January 02, 2010 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: Democrats, Iowa Caucus, marriage equality, New Hampshire, presidential election, republican

At 12:01 AM on January 1, New Hampshire became the 5th state to grant marriage equality to same gender couples, changing Presidential politics as we know them. Arguably the most important states in Presidential politics, both Iowa and New Hampshire are equality states.

iowa.jpgIowa and New Hampshire politics are intimate. When I lived in Iowa I regularly met presidential candidates. They are extraordinarily available. One day I was walking down the street in Iowa City and I ran into Joe Biden having a conversation with a picnic table full of Iowans. They were grilling him on everything from foreign affairs to equal rights.

I ran into Al Gore at my favorite coffee shop shortly after the presidency was given to Bush by the Supreme Court. He was sporting a thick beard and several extra pounds, but he was in Iowa so I had hope he was going to make a comeback.

I also met Bush Senior, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, and John Kerry. I didn't meet these people because I was a powerful lobbyist or because I had a lot of money to donate, but because they were candidates and they desperately wanted me to like them because I was an Iowan.

New Hampshire residents have similar experiences. Candidates make personal phone calls and will even show up at people's front doors. Residents host multiple house parties, where the candidates are grilled better than any reporter hosting a televised debate. Iowans and New Hampshire residents take their responsibility very seriously. They can make or break a candidate.

Now Presidential candidates of all political persuasions will come face to face with married same gender couples and their children. Those couples have the power to confront the candidates about their views on equality. If they are anti-equality (as I presume most Republican candidates will be) they will have to explain those views to the families they wish to harm. They will have to look directly in the eyes of children and tell them their parents are not equal. This will not sit well with most Iowans.

As support for marriage equality grows in these states, Republicans and Democrats will face a choice. They can continue to side with the increasingly unpopular opinion in Iowa and New Hampshire that gays are less equal. They can defend those policies face to face with the residents that can give them the power they crave, or they can side the with the inevitable result of these dramatic changes and choose the winning point of view, equality.

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I hope you have a good point, Joe --- but I fear that you might be just a bit naive politically ... considering that for every same-sex couple you describe, there might be one or several upset homophobic families of evangelicals complaining about how their state supreme court (Iowa) or state legislature (NH) "forced" gay marriage into being, supposedly without any input or vote from them.

I'm trying to be realistic, not pessimistic. But I doubt that the opposition will bite their tongues --- even Massachusetts had a kickback movement that attempted to repeal.

But as always ... time will tell.

NOM already has it's tenticles in Iowa trying to manipulate local politics. They spent millions on a state house race and lost. Most Iowans are more than willing to party switch to participate in the Caucus. Progressives will influence the Republican platform in 2012 (assuming Obama runs unopposed for the Democratic nomination.)

Iowa is far more progressive than it is conserviative, but it does have it's conservative Evangelic streek. In fact, I think party switching is what lead to Huckabee's win in Iowa. The Republican party was abandoned so people could participate in the far more interesting Democratic caucus, leaving nothing but Evangelicals to choose Huckabee.

A.J., you are probably also unaware that One Iowa has been door knocking since the Supreme Court decision was handed down. They are changing hearts and minds, and polls indicate that a majority of Iowans support the change. By the 2012 election nearly every Iowan will have been reached more than once. Iowans don't wait until the last minute to campaign. They campaign constantly.

Don't get me wrong, there is a movement in Iowa to push for a repeal. Some local Republicans are trying to capitlize on that for the 2010 election, but I spend a lot of time in Iowa, speaking to regular Iowans, and they hate that talking point. Iowa is a libertarian state and they don't like the idea of people campaigning on the backs of minorites.

I hope you are right. Good Luck!

So out of all the politicians you've met - what one thing stands out about each of them? Not the usual crap we hear from news reports, etc, but just your innate feeling about them...

Great question. I was in second grade when I met Ronald Regan, so my impression of him was not the same as my impression of him now. At the time,he was grandfatherly and kind. He made an enormous impression on me and I remember defending him to the hilt to my classmates at the lunch table, "No the star wars program won't shoot men on the moon you idiot," I distinctly remember saying to one of my classmates at Nixon Elementary when I was 7 years old.

I met Bill Clinton after he was President. His secret servicemen were very protective and I could tell that he was disappointed that he could not mingle with the students more freely. He genuinely likes people, but by the nature of his life he will never be truly free again.

John Kerry is a bowl of watered down cold porridge. I vigorously campaigned against him during the caucus because of this. I knew he didn't have the charisma to oust Bush, nor the courage to stand up for progressive ideas. I pleaded with my neighbors not to vote out of fear for him at the caucus, but they still herded over to his corner of the elementary school gym. My candidate was not viable so our votes went to Edwards as my candidate's campaign wanted. In exchange I got a seat at the state caucus. By the time the caucus came around Kerry was already the nominee so I didn't go. Kerry is what happens when people vote out of fear rather than voting for what they believe in.

Dennis Kucinich is the real deal. He lives the change he wants. He is a vegan, and every event I attended had a vegan menu. He refused to be picked up from the airport in an SUV, but insisted on a fuel efficient vehicle. In March of 2003 as the Iraq war was just starting, I camped out with a several students on campus to Protest the war (with the blessings of the University of Iowa President.) Peace camp held daily teach-ins, got egged every night by drunks, and even survived a spring blizzard. Dennis Kucinich heard about our camp and spent an afternoon with us. He was the only politician courageous enough to campaign against the war during that election cycle. He continues to vote against war funding.

Howard Dean was screaming well before the famous "Dean Scream". George Senior is exactly the same in person as he is on TV. Booooooooring.