Senator Chuck Grassley says he wants to help develop a longterm plan to respond to this month’s Iowa Supreme Court ruling which legalized gay marriage in the state.
"I would like to consult with Republican leaders…in the legislature. I’d like to consult with bipartisan groups outside the legislature," Grassley says. "…An issue like this has a great deal of bipartisan concern."
Grassley has supported an amendment to the federal constitution which would ban gay marriage. Grassley came under fire last week for saying he wanted to take a month to consider the issue before making a public statement as to whether he backed an amendment to the state constitution which would ban same-sex marriage.
"You probably know one time when I came to the Iowa legislature and demanded that the Republican leaders make ethanol (fuel use) a mandate. I have adopted recently since then — when they told me to go back to Washington and worry about my own business — of consulting with Republican leaders and so I’m in a position to consult with them and find out where I can be helpful," Grassley says. "I think we have to do it in very much a consensus way."
According to Grassley, it will be important to build a "bipartisan coalition" of Iowans who will pursue action at the state level. "And I don’t think it should be planned just for this year or next year because this legislature’s about over," Grassley says. "I think you ought to plan what you’re going to do now; what are you going to do for the next legislature and then assuming you’re successful there…afterwards, are you going to have the normal general election or a special election?"
If legislators approve a resolution which places the constitutional amendment before voters, that issue could be placed on the general election ballot in November of 2012; or a special election could be scheduled earlier that year solely on that issue.
Some conservative Republicans were angry with Grassley’s reluctance to immediately state his support for an anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution, suggesting it’s proof Grassley’s drifting away from conservative causes. Grassley rejects that.
"Nothing’s changed in the years I’ve been in the United States Senate. I’ve always been a spokesman for conservatism," Grassley says. "…I voted for the Defense of Marriage Act. I’m on the record strongly for traditional marriage, so where might the differences come with social conservatives, as an example?"
Grassley made his comments tonight during taping of the Iowa Public Television program, "Iowa Press." The program will be broadcast statewide Friday night at 7:30.