August 30th, 2007
06:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Romney: Iowa ruling 'against the will of the people'

Mitt Romney in 2004 at a press conference regarding same-sex marriage in Massachusetts

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who faced the issue as governor of Massachusetts, criticized an Iowa district court ruling Thursday that said same-sex couples have the right to marry.

A judge in Polk County, Iowa, said gay couples must be allowed to get married because of the state constitution's guarantee of equal treatment.  The judge also struck a state law that banned same-sex marriages and said valid marriage is only between a male and a female.  The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by six gay couples seeking permission to marry, and will now go to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Romney, leading in the Iowa polls after courting conservative support, was the first candidate to react to the decision.  In a statement, he said, "The ruling is Iowa today is another example of an activist court and unelected judges trying to define marriage and disregard the will of the people as expressed through Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act.  This once again highlights the need for a Federal Marriage Amendment to protect the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman."

Romney, who was governor when the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages in 2004, did approve certificates allowing gay couples to marry.  But he worked with other opponents in an effort to overturn the state law, and has pushed for a national ban.

–CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk

Filed under: Iowa • Mitt Romney • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. spencer james

    guess what? : marriage is an old "contract" that says the groom will take a man's "worthless" daughter off his hands and pay her bills and she usually didnt even like the's that for a sacred bond?
    you [..]guys that think your opinions on human rights matter need to wake up.
    youre probably all racists too.
    oh yeah, whether or not you beat back the inevitable for a few years, gays are going to continue to live together and do everything else too. "marriage " wont stop gays from existing...which is what you "haters" really want. OH YEAH Romney's just kissing [...]butt to get your votes...he knows plenty of gays (they're everywhere) and i'm sure they hate his fake stance.
    what would jesus ban?

    August 31, 2007 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. David, Arlington, VA

    James, could you please explain how the gay population controls the laws that affect the heterosexual population? Because, from where I sit, it's the other way around. Anyway, in regards to this piece, Romney is completely off base by saying that the court's decision is against the will of the people. Yes, it may be against the will of bigots and those who desire to discriminate against the gay population. Unfortunately for them, however, the court's decision is entirely in line with the law, as outlined in Iowa's state constitution. It guarantees equal protection and due process, and preventing same sex couples from marrying is in direct violation of those clauses and, thus, the law. The court did it's job; it upheld the law. The U.S. Constitution's equal protection, full faith and credit, and due process clauses would also make any federal efforts, including a constitutional amendment, to ban gay marriage unconstitutional and, thus, against the law. So, from a purely legal perspective, the arguments against gay marriage are weak at best. From a broader perspective, it shouldn't be the government's business to deny people rights, especially when such denials are unlawful. How do so-called conservatives, who always call for smaller government and less government interference in the lives of its citizens, countenance such efforts without coming across as blatant hypocrits? How does a same-sex marriage threaten a "traditional" heterosexual marriage? If anything threatens traditional marriage, it's divorce, so where is the national effort to outlaw divorce? See, these are the questions that gay rights opponents never seem to be able to answer. As a result, any arguments against gay rights, especially marriage, only come across as homophobic or bigoted, since they have no legal or moral foundation.

    August 31, 2007 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. Cassandra, Des Moines, IA

    Disregard the will of the people? Please don't lump me in with thoes people. I live in Des Moines, and I am very proud of what the judge did for equal rights yesterday. Mitt, please speak for yourself, you are not from Iowa and the only people you spend time with when you are here are narrow minded ones simmaler to yourself.

    August 31, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  4. spinstopper

    Just because the majority voted and decided on a law doesn't make the law just. Our government was founded on the principle of protecting the minority rights. You can't vote away one groups rights. –Jason, LA, CA

    Its called democracy Jason. Where the majority make the laws and judges follow them. If the majority voted for gay marriage, it will be a law too. Back door judges should be thrown off the bench by their ear..

    August 31, 2007 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. Richard, Chandler, AZ

    Claude, maybe you should let your God do the judging and you can worry about removing the log from your eye. Since when did "love your neighbor as yourself" get trumped? Or are you an old testament Christian?

    August 31, 2007 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. Todd Dover, NH

    Those pesky activist judges. Why, if it weren't for them, we could still have all of those wonderful Jim Crow laws and segregation and no inter-racial marriage.

    /sarcasm off

    August 31, 2007 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  7. Austin, Austin texas

    Bigots come in bunches, Birds of a feather flock together, so Romney and Craig are surly birds of the same feather.
    They chose to use religious reasons to justify bigotry, and this is the same religion that thought killing in the name of god was just a Dandy Idea ( Can you say Crusades ) Religious fanaticism has caused the death of hundreds of millions of people.

    August 31, 2007 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  8. ReadBtwthlins

    The dems are worried about Gonzales firing prosecutors not pursuing the law and yet fully support this judges subversion of the law? Another fine example of the dems two-faces bias support for activist judges.

    August 31, 2007 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. Shawn - Milwaukee

    I'm pretty sure 100 years ago a law allowing a black man to marry a white woman would have been against the will of the people. However, that would not have made such a law unjust.

    August 31, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    September 21, 1996, HR 3396 was passed by the State of Iowa which defined "Marriage" as the union between 1 man and 1 woman.

    This judge, by striking down this passed legislation, has individually vetoed the will of the people of Iowa (the majority of the people at least).

    Perhaps the Supreme Court in Iowa will better hear the will of the people and uphold legislation. Considering the Supreme Court Justices in Iowa are elected (after initially being appointed) – the Will of the People shall be heard... one way or another.

    August 31, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. Anonymous

    You know, Brown v. Board of Ed (no more separate but equal) was against the will of the people in the South, too. I wonder what Romney thinks about that activist court ruling.

    August 31, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. Nick, Eagle Mountain, UT

    Re: James, New Haven

    I couldn't agree more, James. Whether those who cry "flip-flopper" without looking at the facts of Romney's career like to admit or not, this man has ALWAYS been on the side of traditional marriage and he is spot on in this instance that this is just "another example of an activist court" ruling. This is no more than a biased ruling without the vote or opinion of the (majority) citizens of Iowa being questioned.

    Those involved in this should be relieved of their duties because they can neither judge nor execute, as Romney put it, the will of the people (in other words this was not a democratic decision).

    August 31, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. Vish, Milwaukee

    I'd like to hear someone give me a reason for why gay marriage isn't just WITHOUT mentioning RELIGION or GOD at all. The problem is marriages allow special rights for the married couple, if you banish it from the minority of gays then you are taking away their right for certain financial rights.

    I'm Hindu and I don't tell Christians not to eat beef, eat whatever you want, it not affecting me in anyway, same way we should see gay marriage.

    It's funny because American ancestors fled to America to evade European persecution yet we are hypocritically doing the same in our country even dating back to the slave trade.

    On a lighter note, I feel we need better schools in the South to educate ill-informed "super conservatives." Is their a reason all of the ivy-league and most of the well reknowned colleges are up north? HAHA! Just messing.

    August 31, 2007 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. Brad, Columbia, SC

    "Why should the gay population (5% of the entire population) be controlling the laws governing the other 95% of the populace?"

    James from New Haven, what an ignorant thing to say. I should inform you that laws which allow homosexuals to marry *only apply* to homosexuals. Tell me how this impacts the rest of the public. You are not "governed" by these laws until you become a homosexual.

    And suppose that, on Sept. 12, 2001, 51 percent of Americans supported stopping all citizens of Middle Eastern descent on the street for random searches, fingerprinting, interrogation, etc. Would that have made it right? No. There are some things that, frankly, are beyond the province of popular votes.

    And really, I'd like to hear from someone an argument against gay marriage that is in no way informed by religious beliefs. Seriously. Your religious beliefs only apply to you - no one else.

    August 31, 2007 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  15. Stephen, Charlottesville, VA

    "Finally, a politician who has the will and proactivity to oppose this part of our society which is pandering to the small minority while the majority of the population is fully against such measures.

    Why should the gay population (5% of the entire population) be controlling the laws governing the other 95% of the populace?"

    I guess if it wasn't taboo, you'd also be advocating against black people getting married. That used to be the will of the people too. Why should 10-15% of the population be controlling the laws governing the rest of us? Just because it makes some people feel icky doesn't mean it shouldn't be a law.

    August 31, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  16. David, Gilbert Arizona

    The courts have ruled against the "will of the people" throughout the history of this nation. The courts are impartial entities. The Judicial branch of our government is a third check on the Executive and Legislative branches. The responsibility of the Judicial branch is to protect the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, even if the decision flies in the face of the "will of the people."

    One requirement of the system is that a legal action has to initiated by an individual or group before the courts will take action, in many cases outspoken activists.

    If it were not for activists white male landowners would be the only people allowed to vote. At the beginning of this country's history only white male landowners had the right to vote. If you did not own land you did not vote, regardless of who you were.

    If it were not for activists women would not be allowed to vote. This country was well over 100 years old before women were allowed to vote in national elections. "Housewives!" announced a Massachusetts journal, "You do not need a ballot to clean out your sink spout."

    If it were not for activists black people would not be allowed to vote. It wasn't until 1965, within the lifetime of many people reading this post, that Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. Even so the Act did not include a provision prohibiting poll taxes. The Supreme Court in Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966) held that poll taxes were unconstitutional.

    The Miranda warning came about as a decision by the Supreme Court Miranda v. Arizona (1966). It was the courts that defined the rights of Congress to regulate commerce. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka is a famous case overturning State laws defining "seperate but equal" segregation. These decisions flew in the face of the "will of the people" at the time.

    It never ceases to amaze me how quickly people forget, or simply do not want to acknowledge, the purpose of the court systems when decisions are made which they do not like. They scream about activist judges who find in favor of certain civil liberties but are more than happy to keep quiet when the courts find in favor of discrimination, such as the case with the Boy Scouts of America (Dale v. BSA 2000). I don't recall the outcry of Mitt Romney when that decision was made.

    August 31, 2007 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. Mike Baler, Boston, MA

    Abortion and same sex marriage take up too much time in our national politics. Frankly, I don't care at all about these two issues. And, the politicians use these issues to pander to simple minding, religous zealots across the country.

    Here are issues I care about, and you should also:

    * Iraq
    * Healthcare
    * The economy
    * Social Security
    * Our failing schools
    * The homeless

    When will the people of this country focus on issues that really impact our daily lives...not issues like abortion and gay marriage that only impact a very small number of people?.

    August 31, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Scott, Boston, MA

    The right wing loves to use the term "activist judges" when a ruling goes against what they want. Give me an unelected judge any day of the week. I certainly don't want an elected judge's decisions based on campaign contributions. Mitt Romney, a disaster governor of Massachusetts. The next time he speaks, count how many times he says the word Massachusetts. He only references of the name of the state are in contempt.

    August 31, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. Justino, Ada, OK

    Seriously, what's with all the bad mugshots of Mr. Romney? C'mon CNN, can't you make your democrat favoritism a little more subtle? With all the cameras flashing constantly, how hard is it to post nice pictures of all the candidates?

    August 31, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  20. Jeannie in Sacramento, CA

    Poor Mitt – the grandaddy of all Republican hypocrites! He led the only state in the union that legalized same sex marriage and he was pro-choice for most of his life until the last 2 years, and now that he's stumping for the Christian vote, he's suddenly against both positions. Is he a politician or what?

    August 31, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  21. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    What's the big deal?

    Gays can marry – people of the opposite sex. The same rules that apply to heterosexual people apply to gay people. If a heterosexual person wanted to marry a person of the same sex – will they allow it? No.

    Where is the discriminiation?

    August 31, 2007 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  22. Rodney Dallas TX

    What happened to "seperation of church and state"? Marriage is a religous issue and religion should not be a factor in deciding the governmental rights of each human being. If gay people pay taxes the same as every other citizen, why are they treated as second class? Where is the protection they deserve? Religion has gotten out of control. Can't you see that science is proving every day that there is no God. Skeletal remains are being found everyday dating back millions of years. Each time, it looks more and more like an ape which proves evolution. If God created man in his own image, he must be one ugly dude.

    August 31, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  23. Rodney Dallas TX

    How can you possibly allow straight people to vote on the rights of a gay person and call it fair? Would you allow only men to vote on abortion? Would you allow only skinheads to vote on slavery? Come on, get with it people.

    August 31, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. Rodney Dallas TX

    "Why should the gay population (5% of the entire population) be controlling the laws governing the other 95% of the populace?"

    Posted By James, New Haven : August 30, 2007 10:15 pm

    So James, if allowing gay people to get married (5% as you say) What harm will that do you? How can that possibly affect your life in any way? It won't so butt out.

    August 31, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. David, Salinas, CA

    Rick –

    What you’re saying is that gay Americans can have equal protection as long as they stop being gay. Interesting logic. Perhaps women can get equal pay if they become men. Maybe blacks can end discrimination by turning white. Then, when the whole world is made up of straight white males, we’ll all be equal at last.

    August 31, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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