John M. Becker

Marriage Equality Could End in Iowa, Candidate Warns

Filed By John M. Becker | September 24, 2014 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: constitutional amendment, gay marriage, GOP 2014, Jack Hatch, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, Republican Party, same-sex marriage, Terry Branstad

jack-hatch-iowa.jpegJack Hatch, an Iowa state senator from Des Moines and the Democratic candidate for governor, is warning that if the virulent homophobic Gov. Terry Branstad wins re-election, the state House stays in Republican hands, and the GOP captures the Senate, the party will try to repeal marriage equality by constitutional amendment. Iowans have had the freedom to marry since 2009, when the state Supreme Court unanimously stuck down marriage discrimination.

KDSM-TV reports:

Hatch thinks Republicans will make it a priority to pass a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages if they control the statehouse, an effort some Republicans have failed to get through the legislature in previous efforts.

Hatch said the issue of same-sex marriage legality is "settled" now. He added, "Of course, but it could always change. I think we have to realize that you get a Republican house and a Republican senate and you have a Republican governor, then marriage equality is at risk." Hatch said Branstad would use his "bully pulpit" as governor to push for Iowans to vote on the ban, if Republicans are in control next year.

For his part, Branstad denies Hatch's allegations, saying that he wouldn't push for an amendment even though he supports marriage discrimination. But he added that he doesn't think the issue is settled in Iowa, and that "the people of Iowa should have a vote" on their LGBT neighbors' basic rights.

But even if Republicans sweep the statehouse in November, Hatch's scenario seems far-fetched for one reason: time. According to the Des Moines Register, constitutional amendments in Iowa have to be approved by simple majorities in the state's House and Senate in two consecutive general assemblies. Each general assembly session lasts for two years, so that process would take four years to complete. Then, and only then, would the measure go before the voters for approval in the next general election.

This pushes the timeline out to 2019, and by that time the Supreme Court will almost certainly have weighed in on the matter (and likely legalized marriage equality nationwide). So no matter how badly Branstad and his band of bigoted Republicans may want to turn back the clock on marriage equality in Iowa, they're not likely to be able to do so.

Nevertheless, Hatch's doomsday scenario should serve as a wake-up call about how tenuous our rights really are, and a reminder of how important it is to get out and vote -- in every single election -- and put pro-LGBT candidates into office.

KDSM-TV's report is after the break.

Image via Twitter.

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