Republicans are a distinct minority in the Iowa Senate, occupying just 18 of the 50 seats. Those 18 Republicans have signed a petition and are now trying to enlist the support of at least eight Democrats in calling for a senate vote that would, in turn, set in motion a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Iowa.
Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan, says Iowa voters should be given a chance to express their opinion. "I want to read from the constutiton — I know I’m not a constitutional attorney; I don’t pretend to be," Johnson says. "But in Section 2 of our Bill of Rights, it says all political power is inherent in the people."
Johnson’s trying to get 26 signatures on his petition, which means he needs eight Democrats to join with the Republicans in order to attempt their parliamentary power play. "What’s interesting in some of the comments that have been made here and been made over in the House, it’s pretty clear that on both sides of the (political) aisle there are people who want to send this to the people to decide," Johnson says.
House Democrats, however, decided yesterday that they will not take a vote on the issue this year. Meanwhile Republicans in the House are going to attempt a parliamentary move of their own to force the issue.
Even if the House were to pass such a proposal, Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal supports Friday’s Iowa Supreme Court decision which legalizes same-sex marriage in Iowa and, since he controls the senate’s debate agenda, it’s unlikely the senate will act this year or next — while Gronstal’s in charge.
"Last Friday night, I hugged my wife — you know I’ve been married for 37 years….I felt like our love was just a little more meaningful last Friday night because thousands of other Iowa citizens could hug each other and have the State of Iowa recognize their love for each other," Gronstal said last night on the senate floor.