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February 3rd, 2011


By Craig Robinson

There is an interesting parallel between the effort to repeal Obamacare in Congress and the effort to pass the Iowa Marriage Amendment in the Iowa legislature.

In both instances, the Republican controlled U.S. and Iowa House of Representatives easily passed each piece of legislation with the support of every Republican lawmaker. Three Democrats also broke ranks with their party on both pieces of legislation. The final parallel that both the Iowa Marriage Amendment and the repeal of Obamacare share is that they both faced certain death in the Senate, but that’s where the similarities end.

In the Iowa Senate, the votes exist to pass the marriage amendment. Sen. Tom Hancock of Epworth and Sen. Jack Kibbie of Emmetsburg told the Des Moines Register yesterday that they would support the measure if it comes to a vote in the Iowa Senate. In the U.S. Senate yesterday, it became abundantly clear that the votes repeal Obamacare didn’t exist when it failed on a party-line vote.

The biggest difference between what went down in the U.S. Senate yesterday and the issue of marriage that is now in front of the Iowa Senate is that the at least every U.S. Senator had the opportunity to vote on the repeal of Obamacare. Sadly, Iowa Senators will not have the opportunity to vote on the marriage amendment unless Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has a change in heart.

It’s hard to fathom that a piece of legislation that has the necessary votes to pass can simply be ignored because the Senate Majority Leader is afraid of the outcome. It’s also ironic that Senator Jack Kibbie, who presides over the Iowa Senate as the Senate President, is basically powerless.

Even if 26 or more senators sign a discharge petition to place the Iowa Marriage Amendment on the Senate’s debate calendar, there is nothing that will force Gronstal to actually schedule the bill for debate. Since Gronstal has the prerogative to basically ignore any bill that he chooses, it’s easy to understand why many Iowans are frustrated with the situation.

The people’s frustration is more than warranted. While those who support gay marriage simply want to maintain what they have post-Varnum, they fail to realize that, when it comes to marriage in Iowa, we are in a state of lawlessness.

Current Iowa marriage laws prevent marriages between a man and his father’s sister, mother’s sister, daughter, sister, son’s daughter, daughter’s daughter, brother’s daughter, or sister’s daughter. The law also prevents marriages between a woman and her father’s brother, mother’s brother, son, brother, son’s son, daughter’s son, brother’s son, sister’s sons, as well as marriages between first cousins.

It’s easy to understand why the proponents of same-sex marriage are not demanding that Sen. Gronstal and other legislative leaders pass laws that would recognize gay marriages in the state because doing so would open a can of worms. Since Iowa’s marriage laws currently say nothing about same-sex marriages, there is nothing that prevents a man from marrying his father, his father’s brother, his brother, and nothing preventing a woman from marrying her mother, her mother’s sister or her own sister.

Passing the Iowa Marriage Amendment does more than just restore traditional marriage in Iowa, it also eliminates all of the contradictions that currently exist in Iowa’s marriage laws following the Varnum case. While some people think that Sen. Gronstal is making a courageous stand, he’s actually just perpetuating a state of lawlessness when it comes to Iowa’s marriage laws.

If Gronstal was courageous, he would try to pass a marriage law that actually recognizes same-sex marriage. Gronstal isn’t being courageous. He’s really just abusing his power by ignoring a major problem facing our state.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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