A critical election for marriage equality is on the ballot in Iowa

In her list of “races to worry about on Nov. 2,” Lisa Keen identified the effort to block the retention of three Iowa Supreme Court Justices — and she’s right. This one is extremely important:

7. Iowa retains three justices: One of the smallest races in the country is getting big attention: the re-election campaigns of three Iowa Supreme Court justices. All three were on the seven-member bench that unanimously ruled in 2009 that the state constitution requires gay couples be treated the same as straight couples when it comes to marriage licensing. Justices in Iowa are appointed by the governor but must stand for “retention” at the end of their first year and the end of each eight-year term. Groups unhappy with the 2009 ruling have turned the retention election for Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit into a referendum on same-sex marriage. Those groups including the anti-gay American Family Association, the Family Research Council, and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The Des Moines Register reported last week that NOM has spent $200,000 in television ads to oppose the justices’ retention. Meanwhile, another coalition—a bipartisan one—has been formed to support the justices’ retention. It is headed up by Republican former Governor Robert Ray and Democratic former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack. As of October 4, reports the Register, the contests are a toss-up, with 44 percent of 550 likely voters saying they’ll vote for retention, 40 percent against, and 16 percent saying they’ll retain “some.” The margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percent. The Register quoted a Vanderbilt University law professor as saying “It is virtually unheard of for a judge to lose a retention race.”

NOM is currently trolling through Iowa in its hate bus — and, of course, the Courage Campaign is tracking every move. All you really need to know is that Rick Santorum will be riding around on the NOM bus.

One Iowa is taking the lead in the effort in the stae. Today, that group will be joined by the Courage Campaign, HRC and Cleve Jones on press conference call to highlight the “Fringe, Anti-Gay Groups Going All Out on Campaign to Hijack Iowa Supreme Court.”

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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