There’s another option for opponents of gay marriage who hope to amend Iowa’s constitution and ban same-sex marriage in Iowa. An Iowa Supreme Court ruling issued last Friday paves the way for gay and lesbian couples to marry in Iowa later this month.
Under the traditional method of amending the state’s constitution, 2012 is the earliest an amendment banning gay marriage could be placed on the ballot. But Secretary of State Michael Mauro says in 2010, Iowans can vote to convene a constitutional convention to consider amendments to the document.
"If it were to happen, it opens up many possibilities to make all kinds of amendments," Mauro says. "It’s wide open."
If a constitutional convention comes up with an amendment or amendments to place before Iowa voters, a special election could be scheduled in 2011 according to Mauro. Mauro, the state’s top election official, says a constitutional convention could not rewrite the entire state constitution and would be restricted to proposing amendments — but there’s no limit on the number of amendments which could be proposed.
"The legislature — the General Assembly — would have to put together a way of electing delegates (to a constitutional convention)," Mauro says. "And then these delegates can come back with all different kinds of changes, including putting anything in there, like asking for propositions to be put on the ballot like some of these other states do, to making some very radical changes."
Since 1970, Iowa voters have been asked once a decade whether they are in favor of a convention where amendments to the state’s constitution would be drafted. The proposal has overwhelmingly failed in the past four decades, but
Mauro suggests in 2010 gay marriage opponents may unite with others who want to amend the state’s constitution, like those who want cities and counties to have authority over large-scale hog lots.
"It opens up a world of possibilities and a lot of maneuvering to see how this process could be put together," Mauro says. "…It’s going to provide for very interesting debate, something we’ve never seen."
If, in 2010, a majority of Iowa voters agree a constitutional convention should convene, Iowa legislators would have to come up with a method of electing delegates in 2011. As for his views on gay marriage, Mauro, a Democrat who is a Catholic, says his religion teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman.