Jack Hatch, the Democratic candidate for governor, says Iowans “should be very skeptical” of Republicans like Governor Terry Branstad who say making same-sex marriage illegal in Iowa isn’t a top priority.
“I think we have to realize that you get a Republican House and a Republican Senate and you have a Republican governor, then marriage equality is at risk,” Hatch says.
Branstad says governors have no “direct role” in setting up a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.
“It is a legislative matter and I respect the fact that the legislators are the ones that are going to make a decision on this,” Branstad says.
Hatch, who supports same-sex marriage, says Branstad has made it “very clear” the only legitimate marriages should be between a man and a woman.
“It is their number one social agenda, without a doubt,” Hatch says. “…We should be very scared of the agenda of the Republican leadership.”
Branstad says he’s focused on education and economic development and this isn’t a priority issue for him, but Branstad says Iowa voters “should have the opportunity” to decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
“It’s up to the people to decide who they want to send to the legislature, if they want people who are going to give the people of Iowa a chance to vote on this issue,” Branstad says.
Branstad says voters appreciate a governor who is “focused and doesn’t try to do everything.”
“I’m running for reelection as governor of Iowa and I’m focusing on things that are important to the people of Iowa and that the governor has a role in,” Branstad says. “I do respect the fact that there are people who have strong views on this issue and that is not my responsibility. It is a legislative matter.”
Hatch suggests Branstad has “enormous power” to speak out for the ban same-sex marriage.
“Don’t let him fool us that he doesn’t have this authority. He does. He has the authority of the bully pulpit,” Hatch says. “…I think he’ll use it and, unfortunately, I think he’ll use it in the wrong way.”
In 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling that it was unconstitutional to deny a marriage license to same-sex couples. In 2010, during the last campaign, Branstad said the court had made the “wrong decision.”
Even if Republican legislators pass a resolution in 2015 calling for a statewide vote to ban same-sex marriage, the same resolution would have to pass again in 2017 — so the earliest the matter could be presented to voters would be in three years from now.