Defense of Marriage Act ‘Won’t Count’, Says Democratic Senator from Iowa

By Josiah Ryan | August 12, 2008 | 5:43pm EDT

When it comes to November’s presidential elections, voters in the swing state of Iowa will not care about ‘hot button’ issues such as same-sex marriage Sen. Thomas Harkin said.

( – When it comes to November’s presidential elections, voters in the swing state of Iowa will not care about ‘hot button’ issues such as same-sex marriage, Sen. Thomas Harkin (D-Iowa) told in a telephone conference call Tuesday.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said he thinks voters in his state care deeply about marriage but do not realize that the Democrats are serious about wanting to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
DOMA is a federal law that protects states from being forced to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states as they ordinarily would be required to do under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution.
“I think a lot of these so-called ‘hot button’ social issues are not going to carry much sway this year,” Harkin told when asked if he supported the repeal of DOMA.
On his presidential campaign Web site, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) says he wants to repeal DOMA, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently said she supported Obama’s position.
“I think more people are interested in the economy and their jobs – how we are going to get affordable accessible healthcare,” said Harkin. “They are interested in making sure their kids can go to college without having a mountain of debt piled on their heads.
“They want to make sure we have an education for our kids, and they want to make sure we protect the environment for future generations,” he added.
“They care about the economic issues and the health care issues and getting out of Iraq,” said Harkin. “These override all these so-called ‘hot button’ issues. I don’t think they are going to count for much at all.”
But King said that, so far, voters in Iowa do not realize that Democrats favor the repeal of DOMA.
“Here we are with the Democratic National Party conducting an assault directly on marriage that throws out everything we have known in 6,000 years of history,” King told
“I don’t think they [the people of Iowa] really believe it yet. They don’t take it seriously. They don’t understand the depth of mobilization. They won’t believe it will happen,” he added.
But King added that if Iowa’s own DOMA law, which is currently facing a challenge in the Iowa Supreme Court, is repealed, opposition to ending DOMA on the national level may gain momentum.
“When the people of Iowa see pictures of same-sex couples kissing on the steps of their churches, they will mobilize,” said King. “That’s when the Democratic Party’s advocacy becomes a problem.”
Late last month, Pelosi told that she would support Obama in repealing DOMA if he is elected president. reported on Monday that the draft of the 2008 platform for the Democratic Party, which will be sent to the national convention later this month to be ratified, includes opposition to DOMA as one of its policy planks.
“We will enact a comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act,” reads the draft. “We oppose the Defense of Marriage Act and all attempts to use this issue to divide us.”
In 1996, Harkin had joined 149 of his Democratic colleagues in Congress to vote in favor of DOMA.
The DOMA defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws. Signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the DOMA protects states from having to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states.
Ordinarily, under the "Full Faith and Credit Clause" of the Constitution, states are required to recognize "the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State."

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