Iowa House Refuses Marriage Vote
Iowa legislators shot down a resolution Thursday that would have put the same-sex marriage issue to a ballot vote, as hundreds of Iowans rallied outside the state Capitol for a chance to affirm traditional marriage.
Two Republicans made attempts to bring a constitutional marriage amendment defining marriage as "one man, one woman" to the House floor for debate but failed. One motion was ruled out of order and a procedural effort to force debate was also rejected by a 44-54 vote.
The move to amend the state's constitution comes just after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled last Friday to legalize gay marriages.
Both sides of the issue gathered at the Iowa Capitol on Thursday to make their voices heard.
Over 400 traditional marriage supporters prayed outside the Iowa Capitol in a rally organized by Iowa Family Policy Center (IFPC) that demanded state lawmakers allow the people to vote on how marriage should be defined in the state. Many participants wore red attire and "Let Us Vote" buttons.
"You can let them know today that this issue is different. This is not about taxes or spending and regulations. This is about morality and the Word of God," IFPC board chairman Danny Carroll said during the prayer, according to The Des Moines Register. The crowd later filled the House chambers to watch the proceedings.
When House Speaker Pat Murphy struck down the first attempt to force debate on the marriage amendment, traditional marriage supporters chanted "Let us vote."
"The point is that marriage is part of the fabric of our country. Something that important should not be left to seven judges even though we respect Iowa Supreme Court." Rev. Keith Ratliff told the Register. "But we just respectfully disagree and we just believe that it should be brought before the people."
Traditional marriage supporters say the marriage amendment has a good chance of passage should it appear before voters. They cite a 2008 University of Iowa field poll that shows 62 percent of Iowans oppose same-sex marriage.
Since Iowa is not a referendum state, the State Legislature must pass the marriage amendment during two consecutive General Assemblies before the issue can appear before voters. If the House and Senate considers approves the legislation during the 2009 session, citizens could vote on the marriage amendment as early as 2011. Otherwise, the next possible opportunity for a ballot vote would not come until at least 2013.
A coalition of Iowa pro-family groups on Thursday encouraged supporters to take note of how their representatives voted.
"In the end, a vote occurred, and we now know exactly where members of the Iowa House stand on marriage," the groups stated in an update on LetUsVoteIowa.org.
On Monday, IFPC will join a rally led by Everyday America outside the Iowa Capitol to protest the recent Iowa Supreme Court decision.
That same day, the Iowa Senate is expected to introduce a similar marriage amendment.