from The Des Moines Register.
A Republican lawmaker’s defense of traditional marriage and advice to young people on healthy relationships sparked a heated response Wednesday in the Iowa Senate and criticism from gay rights activists.
Sen. Dennis Guth, a freshman legislator from Klemme, contended in a floor speech that the cultural debate on same-sex relationships has not been fair. The discussion has been stifled, he said, in what he believes is an effort to sway public opinion in support of gay rights.
His comments were immediately rebutted by Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, a openly gay legislator who called Guth’s remarks “ignorant” and subsequently demanded that Guth apologize to Iowans.
Guth’s statements were also condemned by state Rep. Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party; and by Donna Red Wing, executive director of One Iowa, the state’s largest gay and lesbian rights organization.
“Sen. Guth is nothing more than a puppet regurgitating the rhetoric of the well-funded anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family. Don’t we, as Iowans, deserve better than this?” Red Wing said.
Guth, who supports a statewide referendum on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, said that research has repeatedly found that the best environment for children is a family led by one man and one woman who are committed in a long-term relationship.
“The media, for the most part, has bamboozled us into thinking that having a relationship outside of the boundaries of monogamous, heterosexual marriage is positive, happy and fulfilling,” Guth said. “Movies, television shows, articles and magazines abound with this theme, giving partial information to a vulnerable audience: our children.”
Guth said that if he were advising a young person, he would explain that there are “numerous health consequences with a homosexual lifestyle” and that people should not be intimidated for speaking out.
“If I saw someone going the wrong way on a one-way street, I would make every effort to stop and redirect them,” Guth said.
McCoy strongly objected to Guth’s statements in his own remarks on the Senate floor.
”I was frankly just a little bit taken aback by some of the things that I heard today, as I know some of my colleagues were as well,” McCoy said. He particularly disputed Guth’s argument that same-sex relationships are unhealthy.
“Much of what you heard today on the floor of the Senate is warmed-over rhetoric that has been invented by the Christian right, extreme groups,” McCoy said. “What I heard today was ignorant and I know where it came from, and I think that I am not gay by choice. I am not gay by choice, but I choose not to be ignorant.”
Guth said in an interview later Wednesday that he had no intention of retracting his statements.