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Four Democrats join push for vote on gay marriage
Four Democratic state senators — Dennis Black of Newton, Keith Kreiman of Bloomfield, Rich Olive of Story City and Joe Seng of Davenport — broke with their party and signed on to a Republican petition to force a vote on same-sex marriage.
But with last week marking the first self-imposed legislative “funnel week” deadline for bills to clear committee to stay eligible for consideration this year, the marriage amendment is officially dead, at least in this form.
Last week, Republicans attempted to use a procedural move, called a discharge petition, to pull Senate Joint Resolution 2001 out of committee and put it before the full Senate for debate and a vote. The bill would begin the process of amending the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. All 18 Senate Republicans were joined by Democratic state Sen. Tom Hancock of Epworth in signing the petition.
A similar attempt was made in the state House that also failed to find enough votes to bring a gay marriage ban up for a vote.
In the next few days, Black, Kreiman, Olive and Seng signed on, bringing the total to 23, just three votes short of the majority needed to force a vote on a constitutional ban on gay marriage in the Senate. Twenty-eight Democratic Senators refused to sign on.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, has repeatedly vowed to block any effort to bring a ban on same-sex marriage up for discussion, telling The Iowa Independent before the legislative session began that he would “block that at every opportunity. There will be no vote on the constitutional amendment.”
On the day the petition was introduced, Republican leadership in both legislative chambers seemed to concede defeat, with Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, R-Chariton, saying the issue would now be decided by “the voters this November.” A recent Des Moines Register Iowa Poll found 62 percent of Iowans felt lawmakers have more important things to worry about than same-sex marriage.
Even though the marriage amendment is technically dead, it could still remain an issue if Republicans go down a similar path as they did in the closing weeks of the 2009 legislative session. House Republicans made numerous attempts to tack a constitutional amendment on to other bills last year. The two most high profile involved State Rep. Chris Rants, R-Sioux City.First, he attempted to attach the same-sex marriage ban to the state’s Health and Human Services budget, but the move was ruled out of order.
He then attempted to insert language in a Democratic tax proposal that would have defined a married couple as “a man and a woman” for the purposes of the state’s tax code. That effort also failed.
Bryan English, a spokesman for the conservative group Iowa Family Policy Center, said Democratic leadership who are blocking a vote on a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage will suffer the consequences, both electorally this fall and in the afterlife.
“Anyone who has read the Bible knows that while individual battles will continue, the ultimate outcome of the spiritual war was settled long ago by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” he said in a statement. “When the current political debate over marriage is viewed through the lens of eternity, politicians like Mike Gronstal and [Senate President] Jack Kibbie need to understand that they’ve already lost.”