At One Iowa, we understand that marriage equality is neither red nor blue, Republican or Democrat. Our families are a diverse political, cultural, religious and geographic mix. We come from different backgrounds and our realities are as varied as our identities.
Monday night we witnessed the new direction in our movement for equality.
The public face of conservatives supporting marriage equality was showcased on Monday night, January 28, as Iowans joined former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman, former State Senator Jeff Angelo, and Mitt Romney's Iowa strategist David Kochel for a conversation about freedom, individual liberty and marriage equality. The evening event, hosted by Iowa Republicans for Freedom (IRFF), the public education organization making the conservative case for marriage, drew more than 40 Republicans and conservatives who came together at Davis Brown law firm to discuss the future of the Republican Party.
And that future looked at GOP opportunities through a new lens, one that took into account an understanding of conservative values that includes LGBT people and families; opportunities that would make room for younger voters; opportunities that engaged LGBT and allied people within the family values narrative.
I found Mehlman’s remarks a refreshing new look at family values: “The reason I’m here today in Iowa is to stand with and to salute the excellent work of men and women who stand in favor of civil marriage because they are conservative, not in spite of being conservative. If you think about what permitting civil marriage is about, it’s actually consistent with conservative principles…Iowa is a better place today because of the fact that loving couples can be married.”
David Kochel sparked the conversation over the weekend on WHO-TV’s Insiders. He talked with reporter Dave Price about invigorating the party by beginning to understand that the cultural wars are over.
“I think where the Republican Party needs to go is we need to be a more modern party, we need to be a more inclusive party.”
And Jeff Angelo made the conservative case for marriage outlining his own extraordinary journey moving from the political to the personal and back to the political again. The legislator, who co-sponsored the state’s first constitutional ban on marriage in 2004, came to know and respect gay and lesbian friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and constituents. In 2011, Angelo founded Iowa Republicans for Freedom and has continued to be a vocal supporter of marriage equality.
And so, conservatives and Republicans came together last night to add their voices to the equality narrative and look to a future for the GOP that must — according to Mehlman, Kochel and Angelo — examine its social agenda and understand that true family values and true conservative values include equality for LGBT Americans and their families.
And where does this exciting new movement begin? It begins, as so many things do, right here in Iowa.