Iowa Sen. Herman Quirmbach speaks to PFLAG


Photo: Yi Yuan/Iowa State Daily

Herman Quirmbach talks about the possible impacts of the midterm elections to participants of the PFLAG meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 420 Kellogg.

Adam Hayes

Sen. Herman Quirmbach spoke to the Ames chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays about the recent election results and what they mean to the LGBT community Tuesday night.

Quirmbach was recently re-elected to his third term as an Iowa senator. He represents District 23, which includes Ames, and is also an associate professor in the department of economics at Iowa State.

There were roughly 15 people in attendance of the meeting. At the beginning of the meeting, everyone introduced him or herself and gave their reason for attending the meeting. After this and a few announcements, the floor was handed over to Quirmbach.

Quirmbach touched on topics such as the Republicans taking over the Iowa State House by a 60-40 margin and how keeping the power in the Senate affects issues in Iowa.

He also talked about the don’t ask don’t tell policy and how the judges not being retained affect the LGBT community and Iowa as a whole.

“It’s a very difficult election, and it has implications at all levels, both state and federal,” Quirmbach said.

Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and justices David Baker and Michael Streit were all voted off the Iowa Supreme Court in the past election partly due to campaigns launched against the judges led by former gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats.

These campaigns targeted the judges because of the decision last year that marriage restrictions for same-sex couples were a violation against the state constitution.

“You bounced out three judges, but the decision stays,” Quirmbach said.

The decision to remove the judges will not affect the current law that legalizes gay marriage in the state of Iowa.

Quirmbach also pointed out that two of the three judges that were removed were appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, in his previous term as governor.

The senator said he wasn’t sure if Gov. Chet Culver would have enough time left in his term to appoint judges to the Iowa Supreme Court or not, and thought judges appointed that fast could potentially have a target on their backs.

Despite some of the negatives that could be drawn from the current elections on the Democratic side, Quirmbach said there are still some bright spots.

“We’re moving toward a greater degree of comfort and a greater degree of acceptance, but obviously there is still work to go,” Quirmbach said.

He compared today’s struggle for the LGBT community to obtain marriage equality as something similar to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case that overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, which stated that segregation was legal.

“I keep telling myself history is on our side,” Quirmbach said.

Quirmbach also spoke to the importance of voting and pointed out the control of the Iowa Senate could ride on just a few votes. There are still currently two races being counted. One seat is expected to be a Democrat, one a Republican, which would give the Democrats the majority in the Senate.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote doesn’t count,” Quirmbach said.