Hello. I’m Matt McCoy. I represent the south side of Des Moines, Senate District 31 in the Iowa Senate. I’m a lifelong Iowan, an former Eagle Scout, community development director, a father, and the first openly gay member of the Iowa Legislature.
Today is a red letter day for the state of Iowa. All of Iowa’s citizens now have equal protection under the law.
Thousands of Iowans who have worked hard, raised families, and paid taxes will now be afforded the opportunity to marry. Fair minded people throughout our state support equality for all.
I have never been more proud of all the Iowans who have worked continuously for the advancement of human rights for all.
Today we in Iowa are sending a message to all Americans, gay and straight. If you are looking for a great place to live, a place where people treat their neighbors with respect, please consider coming to Iowa to work, to invest and to raise a family.
Unlike the fight in California, I believe that this issue is settled. Iowans will move on to fixing our economy, providing health care to our citizens and making our state a better place to live.
Here’s why I believe Iowa will not go backwards when it comes to civil rights.
One, Iowa has a long history of civil rights leadership.
In 1839, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected slavery in a decision that found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the Civil War decided the issue.
In 1868, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated “separate but equal” schools had no place in Iowa, 85 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.
In 1873, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against racial discrimination in public accommodations, 91 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.
In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law.
Two, social conservatives have made their case to Iowans and been rejected.
The Iowa Republican Party is one of the most conservative in the country. For example, the Republican winners of the Iowa Presidential Caucuses include Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, and Mike Huckleebe.
Here in Iowa, the Republican Party has focused on fringe issues for some time. And Iowans have responded by electing Democrats.
In less than a decade, legislative debate has moved from considering laws banning gay Iowans from adopting children or being foster parents to passage of legislation protecting children from bullying in schools, expanding Iowa’s civil rights protections to include sexual orientation and transgender, a vote AGAINST amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage, and, now, a court decision providing full marriage equality.
Third, the Iowa Constitution can’t be changed quickly. As I said, we’ve already had one vote in the Iowa Senate on amending the constitution to ban gay marriage, and that failed.. That was when Republicans had the majority. Every Democrat voted no and enough Republicans joined us to defeat the idea.
Now Democrats control the Iowa House and Senate, and legislative leaders say the issue won’t come up for vote.
Even if it does, Constitutional Amendments must be approved by two different two-year General Assemblies before they go to the people for a vote.
In short, there is no way a flood of out-of-state money can be used to quickly scare Iowans into going backwards on civil rights.
I believe marriage equality is here to stay. And Iowans will quickly realize that it is no big deal.
Today Iowa is sending a message to young people, both gay and straight. If you are looking for a great place to live, a place where people treat their neighbors with respect, come to Iowa to work, to invest and to raise a family.
I’m so proud to be an Iowan today. Thanks for celebrating with us. And whether you’re gay or straight, think about coming to Iowa to get married