USA Today Guts Conservative Critique of Gay Marriage in Iowa Story

Condensing a December 7 story by Des Moines Register's Grant Schulte on a lawsuit in Iowa that may create same-sex marriage in the Hawkeye State, USA Today's left out the meat of conservative critiques of the lawsuit, citing three supporters of the lawsuit to one conservative critic.

The lone conservative was given just four words in print in the December 7 article "Iowa high court to hear gay-marriage case":

"We're hopeful and optimistic" that the court will uphold the ban, says Bryan English, a spokesman for the conservative Iowa Family Policy Center.

But here's what Schulte quoted from English in his December 7 story "Gay marriage goes before Iowa high court this week":

"We're hopeful and optimistic" that the court will uphold the ban, said Brian English, a spokesman for the conservative Iowa Family Policy Center. "Iowa's law is very simple. We have 150 years of history in the state for the court to side with. The state's Defense of Marriage Act was designed to mirror the federal law, and that law has survived judicial review."

In addition to English, Schulte's Register story had an additional conservative critic, Doug Napier of the Alliance Defense Fund, as well as a quote from a legal brief by a Polk County official defending the state's definition of marriage.:

Assistant Polk County Attorney Michael O'Meara, one of two attorneys who will argue for the county, said ethics rules prevented him from discussing the matter.

But in a legal brief, co-counsel and assistant Polk County attorney Roger Kuhle wrote that Hanson's ruling had "redefined marriage in Iowa."

The marriage law "is consistent with the history and tradition of the state of Iowa and the nation and cannot be heard to shock the conscience or offend traditional notions of fairness or be offensive to human dignity," Kuhle wrote. Upholding the ban "will not destroy liberty and justice."

Doug Napier, senior legal counsel for the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, said he and several other attorneys planned to attend the hearing to field media questions about the case.

"The attempt to use the courts to do the bidding of a small activist group is, I think, offensive to Iowans," he said.

Schulte's USA Today story, by contrast, pitted English's four words versus three proponents of same-sex marriage, including one of the "legal experts" noted in the lead paragraph that insist it will be difficult for Iowa voters to overturn a court ruling like California voters did with Proposition 8:

"This is the heartland of America — a place where family values are revered," says [University of Iowa law professor Angela] Onwuachi-Willig, who signed a court brief supporting gay-marriage rights. "It would be an incredibly strong signal for the Iowa Supreme Court to find that same-sex marriages are legal."

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters