Opponents and supporters of gay marriage have flooded into the statehouse this morning to try to send a message to legislators.
Many gay marriage opponents are wearing 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 Allegiance 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. This prompted House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, to issue 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 restates 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.”
Extra troopers are on duty today at the statehouse, prepared to escort people from the House balconies if they disrupt the governor’s speech. There are about 300 gallery seats available to the public in the House on a normal day. Today, about a fifth of those seats are reserved for the governor’s guests and staff.
Opponents of gay marriage plan to rally on the statehouse steps today at noon. They’re pressuring legislators to pass a resolution which would allow a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Iowa. The top two Democrats in the legislature have said they won’t allow such a resolution to even be debated this session.