Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks answers questions on same-sex marriage, energy at forum

By: - October 3, 2022 6:50 pm

U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks answered questions from members of the Greater Des Moines Partnership Monday, Oct. 3. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks countered previous claims from her opponent that she votes along party lines, speaking at a forum with the Greater Des Moines Partnership Monday.

The representative, running for re-election in Iowa’s newly reshaped 1st Congressional District, talked about her votes in support of legislation like the Respect for Marriage Act and the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, which some members of the GOP contested. Miller-Meeks told the Partnership members gathered that while she disagrees with Democrats often, but makes decisions based on what she believes is best for Iowa.

“It doesn’t mean I just agree,” she said. “I’m going to tell you, there are very few things that I agree with in the current administration. I think we’re facing some tremendous crises. And I have been very critical of the administration and of the majority party, but at the same point in time, I don’t call names.”

After an Iowa Press debate last week, Miller-Meeks’ opponent Democrat Christina Bohannan said the Republican representative’s voting record was in “lockstep” with the Republican Party. The candidates both emphasized bipartisanship in the race as they battle over an area which Miller-Meeks won by six votes in 2020.

“I think there are many times that I am not in lockstep with my party, but in fact (Miller-Meeks) has been in lockstep with the extreme members of her party the entire time she’s been in Congress,” Bohannan told reporters, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

At the Partnership forum, Miller-Meeks said her time in Congress proves she’s willing to work across the aisle. As a freshman in Congress, she was able to pass 13 bills and made five trips to the White House for signings despite being in the minority party, she said.

On contentious topics, Miller-Meeks said she talks both with constituents and other members of Congress to make a decision. When asked about her vote in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would protect the right to same-sex and interracial marriages in federal law, she said it was “extraordinarily difficult” to come to a decision. She said the legislation was Democrats pushing a point in response to Associate Justice Clarence Thomas’ opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, and that she had to consider how the legislation could affect families in Iowa.

She did not say whether she personally supports gay marriage but said that she has discussed the bill with colleagues like U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens, a Black Utah Republican who does not support same-sex marriage, about the language protecting interracial marriage. While she’s received criticism for that vote, Miller-Meeks said she felt it was the correct decision.

“For those who may want to prohibit same-sex marriage, does it prevent them from being able to do that in a legislative way?” Miller-Meeks said. “Does that allow elected representatives to continue to go through that process? And it does, and so I felt that it was the right decision to make for the district.”

The forum gives Iowa federal and gubernatorial candidates a chance to give remarks and take questions from business owners with the organization. Alongside questions on specific legislation, Miller-Meeks fielded questions on what she wants to do in office if re-elected. She said she’d like to be on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which legislates on issues that include health care and environmental protections.

Miller-Meeks said she also differs from some of her party members on how to approach issues of climate and energy. Iowa has a great story to tell, she said, as a state with high use of renewable energy.

“So 50% of our energy is from renewables, over 50% of our electricity is from wind. We are a net exporter of energy,” she said. “We have done that without mandates, carbon emission standards. We’ve done it, our utility companies have done that on their own.”

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. Robin has experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald, in addition to working on multimedia projects, newsletters and visualizations. They were a political reporter for the Des Moines Register covering the Iowa caucuses leading up to the 2020 presidential election, assisting with the Register's Iowa Poll, and reporting on Iowa's 4th District elections.

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