Proponents of traditional marriage say they plan to keep the political heat on state lawmakers, even though the chances of forcing action on a constitutional amendment to let voters decide whether marriage should be defined as only between one man and one woman likely will not get debated in the Iowa Senate this session.
Officials with the Family Leader, CatholicVote.org and the National Organization for Marriage announced plans to host a “Let Us Vote” Marriage Rally in the state Capitol’s rotunda Tuesday morning aimed at keep attention on an issue that has festered at the Statehouse since the Iowa Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in April 2009 declaring a state marriage law as unconstitutional – paving the way for same-sex marriages to take place in Iowa for nearly three years.
Organizers say the purpose of Tuesday’s rally is to demonstrate to state senators that marriage is important to Iowans, and that Iowans want to exercise their constitutional right to vote on the definition of marriage via the Iowa marriage amendment, which would indicate the only recognized form of marriage in the state would be between one man and one woman.
The marriage amendment to the state constitution passed the Republican-led House during the 2011 legislative session, but stalled in the Iowa Senate – where Democrats hold a 26-24 majority. To amend the constitution, a resolution must pass the House and Senate in exactly the same language in two consecutive general assemblies before the ballot issue could come before voters.
“Catholics believe it is important to protect, affirm, and encourage the traditional institution of marriage,” said Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.org.
In advance of the Tuesday’s marriage rally, grassroots activists and churches all over the state have been collecting signatures for our Marriage petition (http://www.thefamilyleader.com/online-marriage-petition-for-the-iowa-marriage-amendment), and the Family Leader expects to deliver over 20,000 signatures to the Iowa Senate next week.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, has indicated he does not support writing discrimination into the Iowa constitution in refusing to allow the House resolution on the marriage amendment to be debated on the Senate floor.
Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, who led an effort to force a debate by getting 26 senators to sign a discharge petition, said he doubted Gronstal would agree to debate the issue this session so the best chance for getting the vote before the people will come during the fall election when 26 Iowa Senate seats will be contested.
“I would encourage Iowans to continue to demand that there be a public vote on an issue that the three branches of government have not been able to agree on. I think this remains a worthy cause,” he said.