Iowa House Speaker rejects attempt to bring constitutional amendment for vote

A few minutes ago Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy ruled out of order an attempt by Republicans to bring a resolution to the floor on amending Iowa's constitution to ban gay marriage. The resolution did not pass any House committee before last month's "funnel" deadline, so could only have reached the floor if leadership made an exception for it.

I will update this post as more news becomes available. You can read a couple of different play-by-play accounts on the Twitter feeds of journalist Charlotte Eby and Republican Representative Renee Schulte. It sounds as if leadership conferred for a while before Murphy ruled the resolution out of order. Iowa Senate Majority leader Mike Gronstal, who refused to let a similar bill come to the Senate floor on Monday, was in the House chamber this morning speaking with House leaders.

Earlier today marriage equality opponents and supporters rallied at the Iowa capitol. I wasn't there, but Charlotte Eby provided the highlights. Former State Representative Danny Carroll told the crowd that politicians who don't listen to the word of God should be replaced. Someone doesn't seem to understand the constitution too well. Unfortunately for Carroll and fortunately for us, the voters of Iowa House district 75 sent him packing in 2006, and voted him down by a larger margin in his rematch against Eric Palmer last year.

One Iowa is the leading advocacy group for marriage equality in Iowa. If you support their cause, please donate to support their organizing and education efforts.

UPDATE with background: The bill in question, House Joint Resolution 6, proposes an amendment to the Iowa constitution stipulating that marriage is between one man and one woman (here is the text). The co-sponsors of HJR 6 are Republican Dwayne Alons (not one of the brightest lights in Iowa politics) and Democrat Dolores Mertz (the kind of Democrat who votes against good labor bills and buries bills that would reduce pollution from factory farms).

The Iowa legislature's "funnel" date passed in early March. Under the normal rules of operation, bills that did not clear at least one House or Senate committee by that time were dead for the 2009 session.

ANOTHER UPDATE: One Iowa says this is not over yet and is urging supporters of marriage equality to contact their representatives today.

House Switchboard: 515-281-3221

The Des Moines Register explains House Speaker Murphy's ruling:

Murphy's ruling today stemmed from the fact that the House cannot suspend rules it has enacted jointly with the Senate. House members can only suspend their own rules. The only way to suspend the joint rules is for someone to introduce a resolution in the Rules and Administration Committee. If it starts in the House, then there’s a vote in House committee and in the full House. If it passes, it goes to Senate committee then a vote of the full Senate.

That explains why Senate leader Gronstal was in the House chamber this morning. The bill is HJR 6.

The Des Moines Register article also makes clear that House Republicans aren't giving up:

But Republicans hinted that they will make another run at the issue later today. “We’ll just let the day unfold,” said House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha. He later added. “The Legislature has a whole mass of rules and while you can use them sometimes to hide behind, sometimes they work to your advantage in other situations.”

I don't pretend to know what rules he is referring to, but please tell all your friends in Iowa to contact their House representatives and ask them to respect the Iowa Supreme Court's decision in Varnum v Brien.

There's more...

Defeating The Forces Of Fear

After a week where the number of states in which same sex marriage is legal doubled, the forces of inequality are afraid...very afraid.

Even opponents of same-sex marriage recognized the week's developments as a potential watershed moment that could subdue the effect of their Election Day victory in California. Voters there narrowly approved Proposition 8, which amended the state's Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, effectively reversing a decision by the state's Supreme Court that had legalized it.

"It's a bad day for the country," said Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, a group established to fight same-sex marriage. "There is a palpable sense that something has changed and people need to get active."

And afraid they should be.

Gay-rights groups say that momentum from back-to-back victories on same-sex marriage in Vermont and Iowa could spill into other states, particularly since at least nine other legislatures are considering measures this year to allow marriage between gay couples.

So what are they doing to push back against the fact that the arc of history is bending toward justice right before their eyes? Why, lie and fear-monger, of course:

The National Organization for Marriage, a prominent backer of the successful campaign against same-sex marriage in California, is launching a $1.5 million ad campaign this morning aimed at forestalling same-sex marriage support in other key states.

The campaign...seeks to energize the opponents of gay marriage by making the case that it will impinge directly on their own lives. The ads will air in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Iowa.

According to Human Rights Campaign, which has a fact sheet rebutting the ad, it is set to air as many as 8 times a day.

Watch it below:

Eugene has a great post at dailyKos about what this ad is really about: same ole same ole conservative victimology. It sure worked here in California last year.

...this is how they get voters in a supposedly tolerant state like California to vote to take away rights from people without making themselves look like hateful bigots in the process.

One of the most powerful weapons in the Yes on Prop 8 campaign's arsenal was the argument that same-sex marriage rights would somehow limit religious or parental freedoms. The No on 8 campaign never effectively countered this, and this conservative victimology helped insulate Prop 8 supporters from being called to account for their bigotry.

Luckily we have the Courage Campaign, which has been organizing for marriage equality in California since November 5th and today sent out another e-mail blast in response to NOM's new ad:

We need your help to fight back right now against this deplorable ad. With many legal experts expecting the California Supreme Court to uphold Prop 8, our only option will be to place an initiative on the ballot to restore marriage equality. To repeal Prop 8, we will need to build a grassroots army for change in every county of California.

In response, the Dolby Family is challenging our community to raise $25,000 as a matching grant to fund Camp Courage trainings for marriage equality activists.

Can you help us respond to these lies and distortions by turning fear into hope? Watch this despicable TV ad now and then contribute to support more Camp Courage trainings by helping us meet this generous $25,000 matching grant from the Dolby Family -- thus doubling their amazing donation.

Now that the forces of inequality have launched their counter-attack, it's all the more important that we continue to build Courage Campaign's marriage equality grassroots army. Contribute what you can and help turn fear into hope today.

There's more...

Iowa Senate leader dares conservatives to push for Constitutional Convention

Iowa Senate Majority leader Mike Gronstal is on a tear this week. On Monday he rejected Republican efforts to bring a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to the Senate floor. Read his remarks here (scroll to the bottom) or watch the video:

On Tuesday Gronstal in effect dared conservatives to push for a Constitutional Convention, which might consider adopting an amendment to ban gay marriage. From the Des Moines Register:

"I'm inclined to hope they succeed, if that's their strategy," said Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, who has saluted Friday's Iowa Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. "There's a lot of good, progressive issues that we could pursue: a woman's right to choose, guaranteed health care for all Iowa citizens, workers' rights -- so if there are people that want to help us get to a constitutional convention, that's kind of my dream world."

If Iowa voters approve a ballot initiative next November on calling a Constitutional Convention, the Iowa legislature will draw up rules for selecting delegates to that body. If the convention approves proposed constitutional amendments, a special election will be scheduled, and voters will consider each amendment separately, not as a bloc.

Some Iowa Republicans don't sound eager to roll the dice on this procedure:

Sen. Ron Wieck, R-Sioux City, said he will likely vote against holding a convention. "We have bumps in the road but we're operating pretty well without going in and messing with the Constitution," Wieck said.

Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley said he will continue to push for a second route toward a constitutional amendment on gay marriage: votes by the Iowa House and Iowa Senate in two consecutive general assemblies followed by a vote of the people.

But McKinley understands why some might have an interest in a constitutional convention.

"I think the reason there is some appeal at least on the surface is citizens feel very disenfranchised from their government," McKinley said. "Democracies are crazy things. Sometimes the people want to do things that maybe the elites don't agree with."

Although I'm confident that over time a large majority of Iowans will come to support marriage equality, I confess that I am a bit nervous about the issue coming to a statewide vote in 2010 or 2011. At the same time, like Gronstal, I can imagine lots of good amendments that might come out of a Constitutional Convention.

Share any relevant thoughts or speculation in this thread.

There's more...

Iowa Governor Culver won't try to overturn Supreme Court ruling

Iowa Governor Chet Culver released a statement today confirming that he will not support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Iowa. The governor said his personal faith still holds that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and he emphasized that the Iowa Supreme Court's decision in Varnum v Brien

reaffirmed that churches across Iowa will continue to have the right to recognize the sanctity of religious marriage in accordance with their own traditions and church doctrines. The Supreme Court's decision does not require that churches recognize marriages between persons of the same gender or officiate over such unions.

After reassuring Iowans that religious marriage is not affected by the ruling, the governor noted:

Yet, the Supreme Court of Iowa, in a unanimous decision, has clearly stated that the Constitution of our state, which guarantees equal protection of the law to all Iowans, requires the State of Iowa to recognize the civil marriage contract of two people of the same gender. The Court also concluded that the denial of this right constitutes discrimination. Therefore, after careful consideration and a thorough reading of the Court's decision, I am reluctant to support amending the Iowa Constitution to add a provision that our Supreme Court has said is unlawful and discriminatory.

"As Governor, I must respect the authority of the Iowa Supreme Court, and have a duty to uphold the Constitution of the State of Iowa. I also fully respect the right of all Iowans to live under the full protection of Iowa's Constitution.

I've posted the full text of Culver's statement after the jump.

Here's to the governor for doing the right thing.  Republicans will hammer Culver for not doing "whatever it takes to protect marriage between a man and a woman," but they weren't voting for him anyway.

More important, as Attorney General Tom Miller noted last Friday, the court issued a unanimous "clear and well-reasoned opinion." Social conservatives don't have to change their religious beliefs, but their faith-based objections to gay unions are not grounds to deny other citizens the benefits of civil marriage. Marriage equality does not threaten heterosexual marriage in any way.

There's more...

The coming battle over amending the Iowa constitution

There's nothing opponents of marriage equality can do to stop gay and lesbian couples from getting married in Iowa starting on April 24. Over at Daily Kos, Wee Mama posted information about getting a marriage license in Iowa for those who live elsewhere. If you would like to have a religious ceremony, I recommend contacting The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa for help in finding a sympathetic officiant, most likely to be from a United Church of Christ, United Methodist or Unitarian Universalist congregation. Couples wanting a Jewish wedding should contact Rabbi David Kaufman of Temple B'nai Jeshurun in Des Moines, if at least one partner is Jewish and the couple is open to raising children as Jews. Rabbi Kaufman has officiated at a same-sex commitment ceremony and published this blog post on Friday demolishing the arguments against legalizing gay marriage in Iowa.

The political battle over marriage equality will go on for a long time after wedding bells start ringing.

After the jump I will bring you up to date on the political reaction to Friday's Iowa Supreme Court decision, prospects for amending Iowa's constitution, and the latest statewide opinion poll on this subject.

UPDATE: Scroll to the bottom of the post for a very strong statement released on April 6 by Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal.

There's more...

Diaries

Advertise Blogads