Former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman has called on Republicans in Iowa to embrace marriage equality for same-sex couples.
The openly gay Republican strategist said Monday during a public event at the Davis Brown Law Firm that conservatives should support civil marriage because of their own principles. Mehlman launched a nonprofit organization last year with the intention of making the conservative case for marriage equality.
"I'm a conservative because I believe in more freedom and I believe in less government," Mehlman said. "I think we are endowed by our creator -- not by politicians, not by the government, not by a bureaucrat -- with inalienable rights including the pursuit of happiness. If you believe that, what could be more central to the pursuit of happiness than choosing the person that you love that you have the right to marry."
About 30 Iowa Republicans gathered at the event in Des Moines, which was hosted by Iowa Republicans for Freedom (IRFF). Among them were Romney’s Iowa strategist David Kochel, Iowa Caucus campaign manager Tom Synhorst, and Huckabee’s 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign manager Eric Woolson.
“How can smaller and less intrusive government not include the right to choose the person that you would like to marry?” Mehlman continued.
The former RNC chairman also said same-sex marriage was consistent with conservative's emphasis on family values, claiming it provided stability to the children of same-sex couples.
"How does standing in the way of two adults who love each other not discourage rather than promote family values?" he wondered.
Republicans in Iowa have fought unsuccessfully to prohibit same-sex marriages. The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2009 that limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman was unconstitutional. Following the ruling, Republicans launched a campaign to oust all the justices, who face a retention vote in Iowa every eight years.