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Gronstal: No gay marriage vote in 2010
There will be no vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage during the 2010 legislative session, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said in an interview with The Iowa Independent.
Republicans may try to force a vote on an amendment, the Democrat from Council Bluffs said, but he will not allow any bill banning same-sex marriage to come to the floor.
“I will not write discrimination into the constitution of the State of Iowa,” Gronstal said. “I’m going to block that at every opportunity. There will be no vote on the constitutional amendment.”
Republican legislative leaders have said repeatedly that they will work to ensure a vote on same-sex marriage takes place during the session. Republican state Sen. Merlin Bartz of Grafton, who garnered headlines earlier this year when he called for local officials to ignore the state Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, told the Mason City Globe-Gazette that he will sponsor the marriage amendment in the Senate.
In the closing days of the 2009 legislative session, Republicans in both the House and Senate attempted numerous procedural moves in the hopes of forcing a vote on an amendment, including attaching it to a tax proposal and the state’s Health and Human Services budget. Democrats successfully blocked the efforts.
But now Republicans will have an entire legislative session to work with, causing some to fear progress on other issues, such as fixing the state’s ballooning budget deficit, will come to a screeching halt.
Gronstal said he can’t control what his Republican colleagues do. But on this issue and many others the General Assembly will be faced with that could slow down the process, his message remains the same: the session will end in 80 days.
“It doesn’t get any easier to say ‘no’ to people the fourth time,” Gronstal said. “Why not say ‘no’ to them right off the bat, say it once and mean it.”
In order to become a constitutional amendment, a bill must pass two General Assemblies and then be put on the ballot for the public. If Republicans are unable to pass a ban this year, the earliest it could go before the public would likely be 2014.
In 2004, the Senate barely rejected a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on a 25-24 vote, with four Republicans joining all 21 Democrats to kill the measure. The next year, the Republican controlled Iowa House passed a gay marriage ban, but an evenly divided Senate never took up the bill.
Now, Democrats have a commanding 32-18 edge in the Senate, making the chances of Republicans succeeding in passing a marriage ban very unlikely.
“I think Iowans want us to focus on the budget and what we can do to create good-paying jobs. So that’s what we’re going to focus on,” Gronstal said. “This is one of those issues that is generational. Overall, if you look at the public’s reaction to the decision, if you’re under the age of 35 you probably don’t care that much about the issue. I think people fighting this are on the wrong side of history.”
Gronstal said the issue comes down to whether the state should recognize two people who “simply want to profess their love for each other. It’s hard for me to get worked up about something like that.”