In a matter of days, the Iowa legislature will adjourn and will not return to Des Moines for another nine months. It is probably safe to assume that the Iowa legislature will end their session on or before Friday, April 24th, just before the first marriage licenses are granted to same-sex couples that next Monday.
We have seen a flurry of rallies, speeches, and news stories about those of us who are opposed to the Iowa Supreme Court’s opinion that has opened the door to same-sex marriage in Iowa. But, what happens when the State Capitol goes from the bustling hub of political activity it is now to a quiet and empty tourist attraction? How will the supporters of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman continue to advocate for its passage?
That question is difficult to answer, and it is very likely that the people organizing the rallies and giving the speeches will not deal with it until session concludes and they all huddle up saying, “Now what?” This is why it is disappointing to see people who have the same goal (passing a marriage amendment) resort to belittling those who also want to see something like a residency requirement be considered when we should all be working together to plan out our future strategy.
While there has been plenty of debate over that tug-of-war, nobody is addressing what needs to happen in the nine months before the legislature gavels in again. What lies ahead for groups like the Iowa Family Policy Center, Iowa Christian Alliance, and the other various organizations involved in this battle is daunting.
The first thing these groups must address is the likelihood of a constitutional amendment being allowed to come to the floor for a vote in both the Iowa House and Senate in 2010. We have already seen Speaker of the House Murphy and Senate Majority Leader Gronstal say “no” on the matter, and one can assume that their position will be further galvanized after same-sex marriage licenses begin to be issued.
That doesn’t mean we should stop our efforts to pass the marriage amendments in the legislature, but what it does mean is that we have to consider a constitutional convention strategy. That is a conversation that needs to happen sooner rather than later because it will take a massive effort to educate Iowans on why we need to vote yes on the constitutional convention in 2010. If these groups wait until April of 2010 to determine that they want to go this route, they are bound to fail.
The second thing they need to do is divide up certain responsibilities in an effort to avoid duplication. I don’t know if there is value in having ICA, IFPC, Concerned Women of America, and countless other groups all at the Capitol lobbying legislators. Maybe one group is responsible for the House, and another group is responsible for the Senate. These groups would be wise to get legislators who already support the marriage amendment to publically announce that support before the next legislative session so that they don’t have to keep going back and lobbying those elected officials who are already with them.
The third thing they must deal with is figuring out what other ways in which they can attack this problem. Is there value in proposing additional legislation like residency requirements? Do they want to run a coordinated campaign against the Supreme Court justices who will be up for retention in 2010? If so, who will organize that campaign?
To effectively wage this war, it has to be fought on many different battle fields, and it is inconceivable that only one organization can effectively coordinate the entire war. This war will take the same amount of financial resources, staff, and grassroots support as any gubernatorial campaign, and it needs to be run like one.
Without a two or four year campaign plan, it will be nearly impossible for conservatives to succeed. So, as we watch the game clock tick down on the legislative session, conservatives would be wise to call a summit of sorts to game-plan the war that is about to be waged. Failure to do so will lead to defeat and mean that Tim Gill and other homosexual activists will have succeeded in turning Iowa into Massachusetts.
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