A year has passed since the Iowa Supreme Court issued its ruling in Varnum vs. Brien, the case that essentially opened the door for gay marriages in Iowa. Traditional media outlets have been publishing articles this past week about the gay couples that were married following the decision. While that is one aspect of the story that deserves to be covered, so too should be the Iowans who want the right to vote on this issue.
Supporters of gay marriage, like Governor Chet Culver and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, claim that those of us who advocate for letting Iowans vote on a constitutional amendment defining marriage want to discriminate against same-sex couples.
Just last week, Governor Culver said, “We stood firm for the civil rights of every Iowan by saying loudly and clearly that any and all efforts to add discriminatory amendments to our state constitution have no place in our state constitution.” Senator Gronstal has also stated that he views the issue of gay marriage as the civil rights issue of our time.
Comparing the struggle of gay couples to what African-Americans, or women for that matter, had to endure in the past is disingenuous. Gay couples are not singled out and treated differently because of their appearance, as was the case with the civil rights movement. Gay couples instead have sought special rights based solely on their behavior.
If gay marriage is the civil rights issue of our time, then why are Culver and Gronstal unwilling to pass legislation that would put gay marriage rights into the Iowa code? The only way to guarantee gay couples the right to marry is to either pass a law allowing it or amend our constitution to support it. Instead, they cling to a court decision that validates their support of gay marriage.
The reason Iowans should have the right to vote on the issue of gay marriage is because our elected officials are cowards. Senator Grostal and Speaker of the House Pat Murphy both refuse to let a vote on a constitutional amendment see the light of day. The entire American system is based on representative government, yet on this issue, Governor Culver and Democrat legislative leaders has basically told the people of Iowa to shut up and deal with the Court’s ruling.
The people have a right to weigh in on this issue whether Culver or Gronstal think it is a civil rights issue or not. The 13th, 15th, and 19th Amendments to the US Constitution all dealt with civil rights and all went through the necessary process to be ratified. So why are we treating gay rights differently than the civil rights of African Americans or women? Because politicians like Mike Gronstal and Chet Culver know that there is no way the people of Iowa would vote to grant special rights to gay couples.
The American Revolution was brought about in part because colonists were being taxed by the British parliament, yet they had no form of representation in the government. The line, “No taxation without representation,” was coined in 1750, and serves as the bedrock of the American system of government still today. I mention that historic line because a lot of Iowans feel that we shouldn’t make major legislative changes without their elected representatives being able to weigh in on the issue.
The only way the issue of gay marriage will ever be settled is to let the people of Iowa vote on this issue. As of today, our elected officials are doing everything in their power to prevent a vote by the people. Passing a constitutional amendment in Iowa is a long and difficult process, yet we can’t even get the amendment out of the state legislative committee.
With that being the case, Iowans would be wise to explore the option of usurping the legislature and calling for a constitutional convention, which will be on the ballot this fall. It’s time for the people of Iowa to let their voices be heard.
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