Pro-Gay Rights Muslim Wins PrimaryPosted in: Features
Religion has always been part of the same-sex marriage debate, but it was part of this campaign in a unique way.
Ako Abdul-Samad, a Muslim incumbent in the Iowa state legislature (and one of nine Muslim state legislators in the entire United States) easily defeated his challenger Clair Rudison Jr, a Christian minister, in Iowa's Democratic primary on June 8. In the battle to represent House District 66 in Des Moines, Abdul-Samad got 74% of the vote to Rudison's 25%.
The newspaper Iowa Independent called this primary battle "ground zero for gay marriage debate." In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the state cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Rudison attacked Abdul-Samad for not supporting a state referendum that would overturn the court's decision.
Consequently, major Iowa organizations on opposite sides of the marriage debate took sides. Iowa Family Political Action Committee, an arm of the socially conservative Iowa Family Policy Center, gave Rudison his largest single donation. In response, Iowa's largest LGBT-rights organization One Iowa, supported Abdul-Samad through its Fairness Fund PAC.
"This race is important and marriage equality is at the center of it," said Ashlan Shaw, an intern at Fairness Fund. "This election is crucial for keeping a pro-equality, community advocate in House District 66 and preventing discrimination from being written into the constitution."
Religion has always been part of the same-sex marriage debate, but it was part of this campaign in a unique way. Abdul-Samad is Iowa's only Muslim to hold an elected state office. He is the CEO/Founder of Creative Visions Human Development Center, has published a book of spiritual poetry, and helped produce an Islamic DVD with Lisa Killinger called "Men are from Marwa, Women are from Safa." Rudison is an ordained Christian minister who served as pastor of a Baptist church in Fort Dodge, Iowa, before moving to Des Moines to serve with Iowa Missionary and Educational Baptist State Convention.