DES MOINES, Iowa — U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, said that she stands behind her vote to support the federal Respect for Marriage Act, despite censures for her actions by seven GOP county parties.
Eleven other Republican senators supported the bipartisan legislation. Iowa’s other U.S. senator, Republican Chuck Grassley of New Hartford, voted against it.
The conservative blog, The Iowa Standard, reported that seven GOP county parties censured Ernst for her vote, a rare action. Those county parties included Des Moines, Guthrie, Ida, Mahaska, Pocahontas, Van Buren, and Wright.
Ernst said that the legislation won’t change anything in Iowa, doesn’t permit polygamy and continues to protect religious freedoms. “What many will feel is the right thing to do (opposing her vote), they will come after me. I know there is a number of efforts to censure me. So what they’re doing is censuring me for maintaining the status quo and actually providing greater religious freedoms for everyone across the United States.”
Ernst maintains that the legislation actually strengthens protections for religious institutions as she said that it only impacts the government.
“Iowa already recognizes same-sex marriage. It does not require religious institutions to recognize same-sex marriage,” Ernst said. “This bill only applies to government actors not private individuals. So you can think of those that might have a religious opposition to baking cakes or same-sex marriages. That’s already covered in the law.”
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Iowa since 2009.