Our friend Dan Johnson (photo) wrote this piece following a public forum held in Waukee, Iowa. We asked if we could share his words with you. He said, “Absolutely!”
“Saturday I attended a public forum between candidates State Senate candidates Desmund Adams and Charles Schneider. You might recall this is a special election slated for December 11 due to the untimely death of Senator Pat Ward.
This was standard fare, the better than-expected crowd turned out at the Waukee Library, parking spilled over to a nearby church and the library staff was scrambling for more chairs to accommodate the crowd. Most importantly, this was not a debate, but a public forum where each of the candidates spoke briefly when asked the same questions by a moderator.
Desmund Adams had something of an advantage in terms of nearly 22 months of campaigning versus maybe three weeks for Schneider. He’s had more of an opportunity to articulate his thoughts and form answers to the standard questions. Both candidates provided pretty typical responses right along party lines: no surprises or exceptions I could detect.
Marriage equality or “gay marriage” was one of the more telling issues that seemed to shine a light on a point of significant difference. I’ll paraphrase the question posed to the candidates: "Would you favor an amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would prevent gay marriage?"
Desmund Adams was first to respond. “Equality is equality.” It’s a phrase he echoed a few times, pointing to the fact that Iowa has historically been a progressive state in siding with civil rights reforms, going way back to slavery and long before the Civil War or the Emancipation Proclamation. Adams
pointed out that this is something that won’t go to a public vote since it’s now a judicial issue and the only subsequent step would be a Supreme Court appeal.
Charles Schneider answered the question with more of a troubled look on his face, admitting this is an issue that conflicts him because of several acquaintances or coworkers who are openly gay whom he hopes not to offend. Ultimately he admitted he thinks this is an issue that needs to come to a vote so that Iowa citizens can decide this issue instead of living with the court’s controversial decision. Straight out of the Vander Plaats lectionary.
My choice was already made before I walked into this event, but the answers to this one question showed me how far apart these two are on a significant social issue. A vote for Schneider takes us directly into the past and we’ve got to move beyond the issue of marriage equality.”
Dan Johnson is a native of Cedar Rapids, IA and a Marquette University graduate who lives with his wife and two daughters in West Des Moines.
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Fri, December 7, 2012
by Dan Johnson