Two Democrats and all 62 Republicans in the legislature failed this morning in their bid to bring up a resolution that would set up a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Iowa.
The first attempt came shortly before nine o’clock in the Senate. There are 18 Republicans in the Senate. All 18 of them, plus Senator Tom Hancock, a Democrat from Epworth, signed a document called a “discharge petition” to bring the resolution out of committee and make it eligible for Senate debate. But 26 signatures are necessary, so that effort failed.
The process was a tad bit more dramatic in the House, but had the same outcome. House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha began by asking that the doors of the House be closed. No House member was allowed to leave and attendance was taken.
After 15 minutes, two members were considered absent and House staffers were dispatched to track them down. Shortly after 10 o’clock a vote was taken. In the House, 51 members can vote to bring a resolution out of committee, making it eligible for House debate. Only 45 House members voted to bring the bill out of committee — all 44 House Republicans plus Representative Dolores Mertz, a Democrat from Ottosen.
Even if these efforts to bring the resolutions out of committee had been successful, the top two Democratic legislative leaders have no plans to bring the bill up for debate in the full Senate or House. Both House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs say they will use any means at their disposal to block a move that would make gay marriage illegal in Iowa.
A legislative deadline looms this Friday. Policy measures like the resolution calling for vote on a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage must win approval from a House or Senate committee this week. Policy proposals which fail to make it out of committee this week are no longer eligible for debate. The deadline does not apply to bills that deal with money matters.