Monday, May 30, 2011

PTL: Jeff Angelo's been born again

Creston’s Jeff Angelo, self-described conservative Republican state senator from 1997 until 2009, created a modest stir last week when he announced formation of Iowa Republicans for Freedom, advertised as an advocacy group for conservatives who support same-sex marriage.

In case you want to turn out, the group will be launched at 11 a.m. Wednesday on the west terrace of the Iowa Capitol. Other events are scheduled at Greene Square Park in Cedar Rapids at 10 a.m. Thursday and at the Davenport Public Library at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Just shows to go you what’ll happen if you marry a Unitarian Universalist, so watch out.

Angelo, now a community relations manager with Mediacom, chose not to seek re-election during 2008. During his 12 years in the state Senate, he backed proposed constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage, even was lead sponsor for one. Now he says he was just plain wrong.

His decision not to seek re-election kind of coincided with his marriage to attorney Tara van Brederode --- that UU --- during 2007.

I say more power to him; glad to see he’s been born again --- on this issue at least. And good going, Tara.

The shift became evident in January when Angelo testified against Iowa House Joint Resolution 6, aka “the ban,” during hearings at the Statehouse.

“Each day, Iowans worship with, work with, live with, and love people who are gay,” Angelo said. “This debate centers around the devaluation of the lives of a select group of people. At its worst, we are asked to believe that our gay friends and neighbors are involved in a nefarious agenda, the outcome of which, supposedly, is the unraveling of society itself.

“My friends, Iowans are discomforted by this debate, because we know it not to be true.”

It may be that Angelo was on the slippery slope toward decency before he got hitched. After all, he also voted to protect LGBT people against workplace discrimination and bullying. Golly, next thing you know, he’ll be coming out as an independent.

There actually are a number of basically decent Republicans in Iowa, you know, who given the choice, would have nothing to do with the wingnut whack jobs who currently run the party. They have no particular interest in banning same-sex marriage, shooting doves or building a chain-link fence with four strands of barbed wire across the top along the Iowa/Missouri border --- you just don’t hear from them very often; never in the Legislature.

But then politics is largely about posturing, positioning yourself to take advantage of the next shift in the wind and keeping your head down otherwise. And the wind does seem to be shifting in regard to issues centered on sexual orientation.

It’s hard to figure out exactly how all of this is going to turn out.

But I have been thinking lately about launching an Ex-GOP ministry. The closet is an awful place and many Republicans need our help and support. Wouldn’t even have to think much about the aversion therapy program; the extreme right-wingers already are taking care of that.

It’s probably too much to expect an immediate full-fledged embrace of one’s God-given Democrat orientation. But bipartisanship would represent progress.

Tara van Brederode and Jeff Angelo blog jointly under the moniker "God, Politics, and Rock 'n' Roll." You'll find their commentaries here.

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