Governor Chet Culver says he doesn’t expect gay marriage will be a significant issue in the 2010 election. 

“I am focused on doing everything I can to move this state forward and I’m not worried about November,” Culver said this weekend during an appearance on Iowa Public Television. “I’m worried about January of 2010 and working as hard as I can as governor to get things done.”

Opponents of same-sex marriage chanted: “Let us vote” as Culver exited the Iowa House last Tuesday after his Condition of the State speech.  During an appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program, Culver said he “talked to and met” many of those protesters, who he described as “respectful.”

“This is the people’s house so we welcome groups to the capitol from every part of our state with divergent political views,” Culver said. “I think it’s healthy to have that kind — to provide that kind of opportunity to any group or any individual that wants to come to our capitol, to their house, as long as we are civil and respectful of the different views.” 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats has said this year’s election will be a “referendum” on gay marriage. But Culver dismisses the idea gay marriage will be a “front and center” issue in November.

“I think that Iowans are focused on jobs, economic recovery, flood recovery, doing what we can to support our kids, expanding health care for children, continuing to invest in things like early childhood education and being a leader in renewable energy,” Culver said on IPTV.  “I really think if most Iowans prioritize what is front and center and their number one concern you’ll hear, probably eight times out of ten, (is) jobs and economic recovery.” 

Opponents of same sex marriage want a statewide vote on an amendment to the state constitution which would ban gay marriage in Iowa.  The legislature would have to pass a resolution placing that amendment before voters, but the governor has no role in enacting such resolutions.