A slew of potential Republican presidential candidates told social conservatives in Iowa this week they believed President Barack Obama was wrong to order his administration not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act at an event hosted by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition.
However, national Faith & Freedom Coalition President Ralph Reed said he doesn’t believe their stances on same-sex marriage will be a key issue for the Iowa Caucuses in 2012.
Reed did promote on stage the fact that social conservatives lead a successful effort to oust three Iowas Supreme Court justices because of their unanimous ruling on same-sex marriage, overturning a state version of DOMA. Since the election, the Iowa legislature has been grappling with Republican proposals to put marriage rights to a vote and to reorganize the state’s high court.
“I frankly think without particularizing it to the retention vote that every viable candidate for the Republican presidential nomination supports the Defense Of Marriage Act, supports the traditional definition of marriage as being one man-one woman. So I’m confident their views will resonate here,” Reed told the Iowa Independent.
But Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, admitted he believed voters will not be looking for the most “pro-pro-marriage” Republican.
“I think you have to make a distinction between rhetorically prominent issues and issues that poll as among the most important issues,” Reed said. “If all the candidates are pro-marriage, it’s not going to be a deciding factor within the field.”
Most of the speakers mentioned the fight over marriage rights and criticized Obama for instructing his administration not to defend the federal law referred to as DOMA.
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) reminded the crowd he would push to take away funds from the Attorney General’s office because of it.
“I say that’s a violation of their oath of office,” King said.
Reed also took a swipe at one possible 2012 contender, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who was not there.
“Some have suggested we call a truce on the social and moral issues,” Reed said on stage, before referring to Ronald Reagan’s presidency. “I’d like to have a leader who can walk and chew gum at the same time.”
Reed said as long as Obama was “appointing extremists” to the courts, refusing to defend DOMA and not halting funding for abortion providers in entirety, social conservatives would refuse to call a truce.
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich alluded to the possibility of issuing an executive order early in the presidency to turn around on progressive issues.
Every prospective GOP 2012 hopeful in attendance addressed the crowd of roughly 1,500, including Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty and Buddy Roemer. And each repeatedly referenced the country’s founding fathers and the mention of God in the both federal and state founding documents. They all also made some mention of power not deriving from government, but rather from God or a creator.
A few of them tried to link social issues and fiscal issues as equals, such as when Gingrich said it a was a “moral issue” to balance the budget.
King, who is not running but spoke ahead of the prospective candidates, said: “If we get the culture right, the economy will be right eventually.”
Although Reed said later same-sex marriage rights will not be a deciding role for the Republican caucuses, he did warn the GOP on stage to not stray from the social conservative stance on marriage.
“My message to the national Republican party tonight is real simple,” Reed said. “If you turn your backs on the pro-family, pro-life constituents, and the values they stand for, you will be consigned to permanent minority status.”
The event was held at Point of Grace church in Waukee, the same church led by a pastor who openly campaigned for the ousting of the three state Supreme Court justices in Iowa and launched two websites hoping to convince other pastors to do the same.