The top Republican in the Iowa House intends to employ a rarely-used tactic to try to force a vote on legislation that would lead to a statewide vote on gay marriage. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says at nine o’clock Tuesday morning he’ll make a procedural motion to try to bring the resolution out of committee.
"We’re just going to try to use the rules to the best of our ability to bring this issue to a vote on the floor," Rants says. Rants needs 51 votes in the 100 member House to win this fight, and that means he’ll need some Democrats to join with Republicans to pass his motion. Rants points to a recent Des Moines Register Iowa Poll which found 62 percent of Iowans back the idea of "traditional" marriage between one man and one woman.
"I think the bulk of the legislators are in favor of traditional marriage and so we’re going to find out tomorrow whether or not legislators are listening to the people or if they are just going to do what their political leadership tells ’em to do," Rants says.
House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, says Rants has every right to try to force a vote, but Murphy contends legislators should wait ’til the Iowa Supreme Court rules on the issue and instead spend their time working on other issues.
"We’ve got a lot of things to focus on — health care, maintaining our commitments to education," Murphy says. Legislators this week face a deadline. Bills must pass a committee in either the House or the Senate, or be dead for the session. Setting up a statewide vote on gay marriage, however, isn’t done with a bill. It’s done with a legislative resolution and resolutions aren’t subject to this week’s deadline. Rants, however, has decided to press the issue this week. "To me, this is the logical time," Rants says. "…It’s now or never. Let’s have a vote."