Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who long before his remarks embracing white nationalism was known for his draconian anti-LGBTQ views, lost his primary race in Iowa, but to a challenger who also has an anti-LGBTQ record.
According to the New York Times, Iowa State Sen. Randy Feenstra defeated King for the Republican nomination to represent Iowa’s 4th congressional district in Congress. Feenstra claimed 45.7 percent of the vote compared to the 36 percent won by King.
King was rebuked in a House resolution and stripped of all his committee assignments after remarks suggesting he was in favor of white nationalism, but before then had built an anti-LGBTQ record — as well as an anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim record — over his 17 years in Congress.
In 2009, when the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, King called for the resignation of the justices and residency requirements for marriages so “Iowa does not become the gay marriage Mecca.” When three of those justices were up for retention at the ballot in 2010, King bought $80,000 of radio advertising to campaign against them. None of the three were retained.
Years later, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide, King said the decision “perverted” the word marriage and he called for a resolution on the House floor that would encourage states to defy the decision.
“We’re in a place where the Supreme Court has put themselves above the law, above the Constitution and above the will of the people,” King said.
A frequent speaker at the annual anti-LGBTQ Values Voter Summit, King in 2012 railed at the conference against the Obama administration allowing same-sex weddings on military bases.
“They’re having them on bases throughout the world in places … same-sex marriage in direct offense to the Defense of Marriage Act,” King said. “This is an undermining of our Constitution, and the rule of law and the separation of powers.”
The lawmaker introduced a (likely unconstitutional) amendment in 2012 seeking to prohibit same-sex weddings on military bases, which was approved at the time by the Republican-controlled House.
More recently, King has also spearheaded initiatives in Congress seeking to bar transgender people from the U.S. armed forces. In a speech on the House floor, King compared service members to castrated slaves in the now defunct Ottoman Empire and said their service “isn’t a civilization killer, but it is an indication of a civilization killer.”
But his replacement isn’t much better.
Feenstra, who has been in the Iowa Senate since 2008, introduced in 2011 a state constitutional amendment that sought to reverse the Varnum v. Brien decision that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa. The amendment never came up for a vote.
Additionally, Feenstra voted for a health and human services appropriations measure that banned the use of Iowa Medicaid dollars to pay for transgender surgeries.
In a statement upon his victory, Feenstra called for support to make sure the heavily Republican district doesn’t flip “blue” in the fall.
“As we turn to the general election, I will remain focused on my plans to deliver results for the families, farmers and communities of Iowa,” Feenstra said in a statement. “But first, we must make sure this seat doesn’t land in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and her liberal allies in Congress.”
Dave Wasserman, U.S. House editor for the non-partisan Cook Report, said on Twitter the primary results were about the perception of King being ineffective.
If King goes down, Dems will see it as a rejection of white nationalism. In fact, King’s GOP challenger campaigned against him as an ineffective ally to Trump b/c after he was stripped of his committee assignments. #IA04
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) June 3, 2020
In other election news, Pat Hackett, a gay woman and teacher, attorney, and civic leader, won the primary Tuesday for the Democratic nomination to represent in Congress Indiana’s 2nd congressional district, which encompasses Pete Buttigieg’s hometown of South Bend. Hackett will face off against incumbent Rep. Jackie Wolorski (R-Ind.) in the heavily Republican district.
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.