DES MOINES, Iowa (BP)–Iowa voters apparently won’t be able to vote on the definition of marriage anytime soon after senate Democrats blocked an effort Jan. 27 to bring a constitutional marriage amendment to the floor.
The vote had national implications because Iowa is one of five states where “gay marriage” is legal.
Technically, the senate vote was a procedural vote and not a vote on the amendment itself, but supporters of the amendment said they had no other option because senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal — a Democrat who supports “gay marriage” — has vowed to block efforts to vote directly on the amendment. Under Iowa Senate rules, the majority leader controls all legislation.
Iowa Democrats hold a 26-24 edge in the senate. The amendment is expected to pass the Republican-controlled house.
“We’ve watched over the last two years as the people of Iowa were denied a vote on marriage,” Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson, a Republican and amendment supporter, was quoted by the Des Moines Register as saying during floor debate.
The first procedural vote took place when Sorenson asked for “unanimous consent” — something that would require agreement from all 50 senators — for the Senate to move from considering an unrelated matter to a vote on the marriage amendment, the Register reported. The Senate president ruled against Sorenson but then allowed the Senate to vote on whether to override his decision. The vote split along party lines, with all 26 Democrats supporting the Senate president and all 24 Republicans opposing the ruling.
Supporters of the amendment believe a majority of senators would vote for the amendment if Gronstal would allow a vote.
“We can only interpret the action by the Senate Democrats this morning as a vote against marriage and the people’s right to vote on our constitution,” the Family Leader, an Iowa pro-family group, said in a statement after the vote.
The Iowa Supreme Court issued a decision in April 2009 legalizing “gay marriage,” but the legislature has blocked all attempts to vote on an amendment. Partially due to the “gay marriage” issue, Republicans won control of the state House in November and made significant gains in the Senate. Unlike other states such as California, Iowa law does not allow citizens to gather signatures to place items on the ballot.
FRENCH COURT REFUSES TO LEGALIZE ‘GAY MARRIAGE’ — France’s highest constitutional court Jan. 28 issued a decision in which it declined to legalize “gay marriage,” saying the issue is one for the legislature to decide.
In the ruling, France’s Constitutional Council said France’s current law defining marriage as between one man and one woman does not violate the country’s constitution.
“It’s not up to the Constitutional Council to substitute its assessment for that of lawmakers,” the court ruled, according to the Associated Press.
Ten countries recognize “gay marriage”: the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina.
WYOMING AMENDMENT ADVANCES — Wyoming’s Senate gave initial approval Jan. 25 to a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. The proposal passed, 21-9, and must pass twice more before it heads to the House, where approval could be more difficult. It must pass by two-thirds in each body, and if passed would appear on the 2012 ballot.
A majority of states — 29 — define marriage in their respective constitutions in the traditional sense.
Supporters of the traditional definition of marriage warn that “gay marriage” legalization will negatively affect all of society, impacting everything from the tax-exempt status of religious organizations, to the way private businesses are operated to what is taught in elementary schools.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. The Southern Baptist Convention has a ministry to homosexuals. Find more information at www.sbcthewayout.com.