Joe Mirabella

Marriage equality safe in Iowa until at least 2014

Filed By Joe Mirabella | January 05, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: gay marriage, Iowa, marriage equality, One Iowa

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Democratically controlled Iowa legislature will not put Iowa's April 3, 2009 Supreme Court decision legalizing same gender marriage up for a debate.

Iowa's founders brilliantly made it difficult to change the state constitution. Two consecutive general assemblies must approve an amendment before it can be put to a public vote in the third year.

Consequently knee jerk reactions like we have seen in other states are impossible in Iowa. The soonest an amendment could reach voters is 2014.

Anti equality forces were hopeful a rally at the state house during Governor Culver's condition of the state speech would change the minds of the legislators, but Iowa is facing a huge budget deficit, and much of the state is still trying to recover from a flood that destroyed most of eastern Iowa's major city centers in 2008.

Democrats remain committed to dealing with these very important issues, while letting the Supreme Court decision stand.

The most recent poll in Iowa shows an even split among voters about how they would vote on a constitutional amendment while 92% said, "gay marriage has brought no real change to their lives."

If national trends remain consistent, the more time that goes by, the more likely voters are going to switch to the pro-equality side, securing Iowa's status as a marriage equality state for years to come.

This has not stopped anti-equality foes like Iowa's notoriously hateful hog farmer Chuck Hurley from trying to put an end to marriage equality. He is planning a protest on January 12.

Hurley also lashed out at Governor Culver for issuing a proclamation in 2009 recognizing November 20th's Transgender Day of Remembrance. Hurley said, "As if the governor's unwillingness to exercise the influence of his office in the defense of marriage wasn't enough, we now know that he is spending his time creating special days celebrating sexual disorientation."

A representative for the Governor said, "the governor felt issuing the proclamation was an appropriate way to honor transgender people who have died."

Iowan's may be safe from a vote on their rights until at least 2014, but that has not stopped them from preparing now for that possibility. As I mentioned in my post "Iowa and New Hampshire's equality and the Presidential elections", Iowans don't wait to campaign, they campaign constantly.

Iowa's equality organization is living up to that reputation, One Iowa is launching a new bi-partisan campaign in support of Iowa's equality called the "Equality: Red Blue Purple", on January 10, at 2:00 PM at the Des Moines Social Club, 1408 Locus Street.

redbluepurple.jpgFrom the event page:

Equality: Red Blue Purple will highlight broad based opposition to an amendment that would take away civil marriage protections from Iowans and will feature a coalition of organizations and individuals working to stop an amendment.

Considering they have at least 4 years to stop an amendment, I believe One Iowa and their bipartisan coalition partners can do it.

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Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | January 5, 2010 10:03 AM

That's actually excellent news. By 2014, even the most obtuse will see that same sex marriage hasn't blasted the moon in it's course or brought down divine judgment. Especially when the rapture doesn't happen in 2012 like the acolytes of the History Channel seem to think. Personally, since all that the marriage opponents can offer as a reason to oppose it is their fantasy of "god", I don't see how they can even get it into the courts, onto ballots and into law in this country.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances".

Seems pretty clear to me but congress has and continues to pass laws doing exactly that.

Lynn Miller | January 5, 2010 7:16 PM

By 2014, even the most obtuse will see that same sex marriage hasn't blasted the moon in it's course or brought down divine judgment.

oh, but Margaret, you don't take into account the Iowa Family Policy Council, who recently denounced the Iowa governor's statement in support of the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Iowa haw quite a few persons whose hate overrides their reason or compassion. Although I take comfort in know that Iowans can't vote on same-sex marriage until 2114 at the earliest, by no means do I think this means that the future of same-sex marriage in Iowa is safe.

Hurley is the exception to the rule, and quite honestly most Iowans are turned off by hateful rhetoric towards anyone.

Iowa has a long history of being a leader in civil rights. The state was an active destination for the underground rail road; the Universities where the first in the country to admit women; and it was the first state to marry inter-racial couples.

If the Iowa legislature ever decides to put a constitutional amendment before voters with two consecutive votes, I strongly believe Iowans will do the right thing and preserve their strong civil rights record.

We should remain vigilant and support the efforts of One Iowa so the first state in the Midwest to grant marriage equality remains a marriage equality state forever.

Iowa and Indiana have the same requirements to amend the Constitution. It's helped us to fend off a marriage amendment here too.

Massachusetts has a similar constitutional requirement for amendments. The proposed amendment must go through the state legislature in 2 consecutive terms. The defeat of the attempt to put marriage equality to a vote in 2007 put the matter to rest in Mass for a while as well. (I'll just note that in 2006 Mass had elected a Democratic governor, attorney general and Speaker of the House who all worked together to defeat the attempted amendment.)
I was living in Missouri in 2004 when the first anti-equality amenment was passed. All it took was a knee-jerk reaction from a frightened populace, and a whole minority's legal rights were written out of the state constitution.
Massachusetts, with the oldest democratic constitution in the world (so they claim here), had long ago realized it didn't make sense to allow for that kind of fearmongering when it came to its constitution.
I did some volunteer work with MassEquality during this time, and even though the polls were slightly in our favor (as of 06 and 07), most supporters didn't want to put a people's access to equality to a vote.
Most recent polls in Mass show support for marriage equality in the 55 - 60% range. Five years after the historic SJC ruling even opponents seem to admit the issue is probably settled.
However, there are some groups, like Mass Resistance, which still vow to try again at some later date.