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First Federated, second 'protect marriage' rally

by Jeremy Hooper

Screen Shot 2011-09-16 At 4.05.52 PmOn February 10, 1996, every GOP presidential candidate at the time (with the exception of Dick Lugar) sent their warmest wishes to Des Moines, Iowa's First Federated Church, where a so-called "Campaign to Protect Marriage" rally was held. Chuck Hurley, then a state representative, was one of the event's lead speakers. All involved warned that if marriage is not "defended" then all holy hell will break loose. And at the end of the shindig, all of the Republican candidates signed a marriage pledge, given to them by something called the National Campaign to Protect Marriage.

The video isn't embeddable, but you can watch the whole 2+ hours here.

Well now fast forward to 2011. The same Chuck Hurley is now a top dog at the Iowa Family Policy Council and its larger umbrella, The Family Leader. The same sort of marriage pledge now comes courtesy of the National Organization For Marriage. The Republican slate now features (at least) one woman. The target of the one liners is now a man named Barack, not a guy named Bill. But other than that, Des Moines will likely soon look and sound almost exactly the same as it did fifteen years ago, as the the candidates from the same party are once again planning to gather at the very same First Federated Church for yet another event designed to "protect marriage":

Screen Shot 2011-09-16 At 4.16.23 Pm

Back in 1996, the First Federated event was noted for its unbelievably heated rhetoric ("send this evil life style back to Satan where it came from!") and over-aggressive slate of speakers. That's likely to be another change, since the "marriage protectors" of now are much savvier about what they say in public than they were back when marriage equality was more theoretical and homo-hostility more excused.

But even if it sounds different, will the 2011 First Federated event really be any different from the 1996 edition? I say no. The script may be toned down this time, but the motivation, target, casting, and setting all remain the exact same. Those fundamental elements are just as offensive, even if the language is more carefully couched. Some would say more so.

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