Iowa Same-Sex Marriage Decision Update

Just to give you an update on what’s been going on with the fallout after Friday’s Iowa Supreme Court decision to strike down the Iowa Defense of Marriage Act.

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) says he will not allow debate on the matter.

Gronstal, who lauded the Supreme Court decision handed down Friday overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, was asked by Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, R-Chariton, if he would join with Republicans in crafting a bill to move an amendment forward.

“Eleven years ago, you voted in favor of protecting marriage as between one man and one woman,” McKinley said. “Will you pledge to work with me and craft a leadership bill on this important issue and bring it to the floor a vote by this body?”

In response, Gronstal shared a story about his daughter, Kate, telling a group of conservative men that opponents of same-sex marriage “have already lost” and that the younger generation doesn’t care.

“I learned something from my daughter that day. That’s what I see, Sen. McKinley,” Gronstal said. “I see a bunch of people that merely want to profess their love for each other and want state law to recognize that. Is that so wrong? I don’t think that’s so wrong.”

Senator Gronstal voted in favor of the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act before. No one is saying that it is wrong for homosexuals to want a state law to recognize their relationship. It has nothing to do with their desire, though, it has to do with the will of the people and the democratic process.

Now Governor Chet Culver is getting squishy on the subject after saying he would remain open to a constitutional amendment process should this ruling occur the way it did.

“As I have stated before, I personally believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Culver said in the statement. “This is a tenet of my personal faith. The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision has, in fact, reaffirmed that churches across Iowa will continue to have the right to recognize the sanctity of religious marriage in accordance with their own tranditions (sic) and church doctrines.”

Adding that the decision does not require churches recognize or officiate over same-sex marriages, Culver said that he, as governor, must respect the authority of the Iowa Supreme Court and uphold the Iowa Constitution.

What about the judicial branch respecting the legislative branch? Also isn’t the amendment process available to us to address what is deemed a constitutional problem? He’s trying to deflect and doing a poor job of it. It may not matter however due to 1964 constitutional amendment that requires voters to be asked every 10 years if they wish to convene a constitutional convention. It will be on the ballot in 2010.

Also, Ramesh Ponnuru nails what the problem is with this ruling.

In a democratic system such as ours, it can be perfectly appropriate for courts to set aside laws. Constitutions reflect the permanent will of the people, which trumps the temporary will of the people as expressed in ordinary statutes (if a court is forced to choose between these sources of law to decide a case).

But nobody can plausibly claim that Iowans meant to ratify same-sex marriage when they approved a constitution including equal-protection language. Nor can anyone plausibly claim that Iowans meant to authorize judges to decide such matters as marriage policy when they approved that language.

The court’s ruling thus has no democratic or constitutional legitimacy. Whether or not same-sex marriage is a good idea, the decision by Iowa’s court to impose it on the state is an outrage.

Major hat-tip to Jeff Angelo, and he brings up some other good points as well.

I shared some thoughts on Sunday regarding this ruling to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to remember God is in control regardless of what happens. Also that we need to do a better job reaching out to the homosexual community and make sure that we are respectful and loving in our speech. I also said that addressing this politically is appropriate, and I don’t want those comments to be interpreted as saying not to be involved.

To that end I’d like to share some timely news. I spent some time after work sending emails to all of the Representatives and Senators. I received an email back from Representative Renee Schulte (R-Cedar Rapids) who encouraged me to email the committee members holding the bill up:

I encourage all Iowans who oppose this ruling to contact these Representatives and soon, please be sure to do so in a respectful manner. There is a great sample letter that you can use as a guide.

Cross-posted from Caffeinated Thoughts.

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