Iowa gubernatorial candidate – and
former governor – Terry Branstad has broken rank with other
candidates seeking the Republican nomination on gay rights.
Republican gubernatorial candidates
have sided with social conservatives who are rankled at Democratic
leaders for blocking a resolution calling for an amendment in the
Iowa constitution that would ban gay marriage. Last April, the Iowa
Supreme Court unanimously agreed that denying gay and lesbian couples
the right to marry was unconstitutional.
While Branstad also supports putting
the issue up for a vote, he's clearly in favor of some gay rights.
“Well, I don't think people should be
discriminated against,” Branstad said in a wide-ranging interview
with the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
“And you know, certainly I recognize
the situation as far as the hospital and things like that. I don't
have a problem with that.” Branstad's comments could suggest he
favors recognizing gay couples with civil unions or domestic
Branstad also said he does not oppose
“I don’t have a problem with people
that want to live together and raise a child and things like that,”
he said. “In fact, Grace Copley, who was my clerk for years, or my
secretary when I was lieutenant governor and governor, she has a son
who’s gay, and he and his friend have adopted children and are
raising the children. And Grace is a very conservative religious
woman. It was a very difficult thing for her to deal with when this
became the situation. But they did. And she still is not someone who
is supportive of gay marriage, but she’s certainly supportive of
her children and grandchildren.”
Even Branstad's limited support for gay
rights puts him at odds with other Republican gubernatorial
candidates who adamantly oppose gay rights. Bob Vander Plaats, for
example, has enthusiastically welcomed the endorsement of the Iowa
Family Policy Center, a group
that opposes gay rights. Vander Plaats is the most
vociferous anti-gay marriage gubernatorial candidate. He's pledged,
if elected, to halt such weddings with an executive order until the
issue is decided by voters. Most analysts have said such a move
would not be legal.