A Republican who is likely to run for governor in 2010 says his "team" believes Democratic Governor Chet Culver has the authority to issue an executive order which would ban gay marriage in Iowa. Bob Vander Plaats held a midday news conference at the statehouse.
"In our opinion, it is constitutionally irresponsible for the governor not to issue this executive order. This is his role," Vander Plaats said, "You have a legislative branch and you have a judicial branch clearly in conflict with one another. The executive branch must weigh in."
Vander Plaats supports an amendment to the state constitution which would ban gay marriage in Iowa.
"So we believe right now, Governor Culver, people all over the state of Iowa are looking for leadership…put a stay on same-sex marriages immediately until the people have a right to vote," Vander Plaats said.
The governor’s staff and the attorney general both say the governor does not have the authority to issue an executive order. Phil Roeder, a spokesman for Governor Culver, says it is "sad" that Vander Plaats lacks a "basic understanding of how government works" and the limits of the office he intends to seek.
"The Governor of Iowa cannot stay or overturn a decision of the Supreme Court of Iowa by simply signing an Executive Order. Period. Separation of powers is a basic fact about how America’s democracy works that most people learned in their high school government class," Roeder said in a statement. "Governor Culver feels strongly about this, since it is a lesson he taught his students as a former high school government teacher."
Vander Plaats, like Culver, is a former teacher and coach.
The Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling earlier this month that legalizes same-sex marriage in Iowa, effective April 27th.