Opponents and supporters of gay marriage flooded into the statehouse today to try to send a message to legislators. Many gay marriage opponents wore red clothing to call attention to their group, some of whom were seated in the balconies overlooking the Iowa House over an hour before the governor was scheduled to deliver his “Condition of the State” message in the House.
After the House members and their staff, along with guests in the galleries, recited The Pledge of Allegience together, a visitor in the balcony uttered a brief affirmation out loud. A few moments later someone else in the balcony was talking as the House was conducting routine business.
House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, issued a warning.
“With the address that we’re having today, House rules are very clear and I will state them once, now, and they’re not going to be restated again,” Murphy said. “We ask that people who wish to view the proceedings are welcome in the gallery. However, we expect silence in the process of our business. If there is disruptions or distractions, that is inappropriate for the galleries so I’d ask that you please respect the rules. Handouts have been given and there are signs posted as to what’s acceptable and not acceptable.”
Three times as many troopers as normal were on duty this morning at the statehouse, prepared to escort people from the House balconies if they disrupted the governor’s speech, but there were no disruptions from those sitting in the galleries.
Instead, gay marriage opponents stood in the statehouse rotunda to confront Culver with the chant of “Let us vote” just as he emerged from the House to make his way to the governor’s office on a lower floor.
(This story was updated at 3:30 p.m.)