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Iowa anti-gay marriage bill advances in House; falls short of votes in Senate

Thursday, January 27, 2011
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DES MOINES, Iowa — The Democrat-controlled state Senate has shut down another attempt by Republican legislators to put gay marriage on the Iowa ballot in hopes of repealing the 2009 state Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

Iowa State Capitol

The move comes just days after the House Judiciary Committee passed a resolution aimed at enabling voters to amend the state constitution, and not only ban same-sex marriage, but also ban civil unions, domestic partnerships and any other legal recognition of same-sex couples.

But Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) has vowed to never allow such an amendment to come up for debate, according to the Iowa Independent.

A motion by state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R-Indianola) to suspend the Senate’s rules to allow a vote on a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was defeated early Thursday morning on a party-line vote.

Sorenson asked all 50 senators to call up Senate Joint Resolution 8, a bill that would amend the Iowa Constitution to specify that marriage between one man and one woman is the only legal union valid or recognized in the state. Senate President Jack Kibbie (D-Emmetsburg) said “no,” but agreed to allow a vote on whether to suspend the rules and override his objection.

Twenty-six Democrats voted “no” and 24 Republicans voted “yes.” The motion was defeated.

Gronstal said Thursday’s vote was simply a vote on rules, which traditionally gives the Senate majority leader final authority over bills or resolutions — which committee they’re assigned to, whether they’re called up for a vote.

“It is not a vote on the constitutional vote, but I understand that people can lie and say it is,” Gronstal told the Des Moines Register.

In the House, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee voted 2-1 in favor of the Iowa Marriage Amendment, which would define marriage in the Iowa Constitution as a heterosexual union.

The full House committee followed suit with a 13-8 vote — supported by 12 Republicans and one Democrat. The measure now moves to the full House for debate, and a public hearing is planned for Jan. 31.

At least 56 House Republicans have pledged their support for the bill, but only 51 votes are needed in the 100 member chamber to approve the measure.

The measure has to be approved by both houses of the Iowa legislature in two consecutive legislative sessions before being put up for referendum.

With Gronstal pledging to block a Senate vote this year, a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage will likely not occur at least until 2014.

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