DES MOINES, Iowa — Opponents of LGBT rights are celebrating the unprecedented ouster of three Iowa Supreme Court justices who helped legalize same-sex marriage in the state last year, but Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D) is pledging to block any attempt to pass a constitutional amendment which would ban gay marriage.
After the three justices — Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Michael Streit and David Baker — were ousted during the election this week, many worry that an amendment banning the 2 year old gay marriage ruling is soon to follow.
But it appears Democrats in the Iowa State Senate won’t lose control to Republicans, but rather go to an even split of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans, with Gronstal retaining his position as Majority Leader.
With that role, Gronstal has the authority to block an anti-gay marriage amendment from even coming to a vote.
Gronstal said he believes the right thing means protecting the civil rights of gays and lesbians, and reaffirmed this week that he won’t bow to pressure.
“The easy political thing for me to do years ago would have been to say, ‘Oh, let’s let this thing go. It’s just too political and too messy,’ ” Gronstal said. “What’s ugly is giving up what you believe in, that everybody has the same rights. Giving up on that? That’s ugly.”
The three judges were running for new terms unopposed, but a majority voted to remove them from the bench.
Anti-gay groups, including the National Organization for Marriage and the American Family Association, poured money into a campaign in retaliation over the 2009 unanimous ruling by seven justices that the Iowa ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
In a statement, the judges criticized what they called “an unprecedented attack by out-of-state special interest groups.”
The justices’ removal will have no effect on same-sex marriage, which will remain the law.