Mahaska County GOP censures U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks over support of same-sex marriage

·4 min read

U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks was one of 47 Republicans who voted in favor of a bill that would protect same-sex and interracial marriage last month.

Now that vote is drawing the ire of some in her own party.

KCCI reported that last Thursday the Mahaska County Republican Central Committee unanimously voted to censure Miller-Meeks for her vote in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which passed the U.S. House 267-157 in July.

The bill, which awaits a vote in the U.S. Senate, would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. It would also prevent states from denying recognition to out-of-state-marriages based on sex, race, ethnicity or origin, and require the federal government to recognize any marriage, as long as it was legal in the state where it took place.

Miller-Meeks is in her first term representing Iowa's 2nd Congressional District.

Mahaska County Republican Central Committee Chair Jean Stanford told the Press-Citizen the county party held the vote after 5-10 minutes of discussion. Stanford said a couple of community members approached their central committee representative, who brought forward the motion.

Stanford said in an email that, according to Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann, the job of the Mahaska County Republican Central Committee is to elect Republican candidates.

"(Miller-Meeks) is our candidate, and we are all deeply committed to doing our job," Stanford said. "She is always welcome to attend our meetings, and if she does, I imagine it will be a lively discussion."

The censure is a grassroots message, but it carries no teeth.

A censure in this case is the county party formally stating its disapproval of Miller-Meeks because of her vote on the Respect for Marriage Act.

U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks speaks during a round table event hosted by Iowa Young Americans for Freedom and the Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City, Iowa.
U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks speaks during a round table event hosted by Iowa Young Americans for Freedom and the Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City, Iowa.

Miller-Meeks' campaign sent a statement to the Press-Citizen addressing the criticisms leveled at her because of her vote on this bill.

"While we have our differences from time to time, we all agree that our country will be much better off with Republicans in charge," campaign manager Elliott Husbands said.

"We are all committed to a GOP victory. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is going to continue fighting for personal and economic freedom. What’s happening in Washington every single day is a disgrace to our nation, and she will continue to fight for Iowa values."

A statement sent to the Press-Citizen by campaign spokesperson Eric Woolson on Tuesday gave more insight into Miller-Meeks' vote.

The congresswoman said the bill ensures the federal government recognizes marriages legally performed in each state and that states recognize marriages performed in other states regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin or sex.

"This legislation aligns with the legal precedent established by numerous U.S. Supreme Court rulings. Notably, this bill does not require individuals or organizations to perform marriages contrary to their religious beliefs, upholding religious rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution,” Miller-Meeks said.

In addition to the incumbent Republican from Ottumwa, Iowa U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson (R) and Cindy Axne (D) also voted in favor. Iowa U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, both Republicans, have not indicated whether they would support the bill in the upper chamber.

Read more on the 1st District election:

Miller-Meeks, who won her seat by six votes in 2020, faces Democrat Christina Bohannan of Iowa City in Iowa's new 1st Congressional District in the southeast part of the state. Bohannan also supports same-sex marriage and the Respect for Marriage Act.

Mahaska County is in the 2nd Congressional District that Miller-Meeks currently represents and will be in the new 1st Congressional District that she and Bohannan are running for in November.

Christina Bohannan speaks to a crowd of supporters at the Warren County Historical Society in Indianola, Iowa on June, 22, 2022
Christina Bohannan speaks to a crowd of supporters at the Warren County Historical Society in Indianola, Iowa on June, 22, 2022

Most in the Republican Party have long opposed same-sex marriage, but Miller-Meeks and many of her colleagues chose to cross party lines on this bill, showing a shift in traditional party politics on the issue.

This bill was introduced in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization overturning the federal right to abortion in Roe vs. Wade. Justice Clarence Thomas said he would like to see Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage, and other cases reconsidered.

The Mahaska County censure motion cites the platform of the Iowa GOP, which states it believes that traditional marriage-based families, between one man and one woman, are the foundation to a stable, enduring and healthy civilization, and encourages repealing laws allowing any marriage that is not between one man and one woman.

The Iowa GOP has not moved to censure Miller-Meeks or Hinson for their votes in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act.

George Shillcock is the Press-Citizen's local government and development reporter covering Iowa City and Johnson County. He can be reached at (515) 350-6307, GShillcock@press-citizen.com and on Twitter @ShillcockGeorge

This article originally appeared on Iowa City Press-Citizen: Mahaska County GOP censures U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks