The 2012 presidential election campaign has been personal for John Sellers and Tom Helton.
The couple has been together 13 years and married in Des Moines on May 1, 2009, following a three-day waiting period after it was first possible for same-sex couples to obtain a marriage license in the state. Marriage equality was instituted in Iowa in 2009 when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the state constitution guaranteed marriage rights for gay couples.
Sellers recounted the well wishes he received after telling a female conservative co-worker about his wedding.
“When we got married, she was one the few people that acknowledged it, and gave us a gift,” Sellers said. “I think that’s very interesting because as this subject goes to her, this is a non-issue. We should have the same rights as everybody else, yet she’s a very conservative Republican.”
Nonetheless, no shortage of campaign rhetoric against same-sex marriage has spewed from Republican candidates as they made the rounds in Iowa.
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich — who reportedly directed $150,000 to a referendum effort in 2010 that successfully ousted three Iowa justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality — called marriage equality “a temporary aberration that will dissipate” at aIowa campaign event in September.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has been particularly critical of the Iowa justices who determined that same-sex couples have a right to marry in the state. She’s repeatedly called them “black-robed masters” for legalizing marriage equality in the Hawkeye State.
Enjoying a boost in the polls in Iowa in the days for before the caucuses, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said Saturday during an interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd that his version of the Federal Marriage Amendment would not only prohibit additional same-sex marriages, but existing marriages “would be invalid.”
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