Iowans looking to overturn the state Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage have few precious moments to waste. Their tallest hurdle might be time.

On Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously declared a decade-old ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and rejected civil unions as a remedy. Gay nuptials are set to begin in Iowa on April 24, a Friday. (Did I mention it was unanimous and rejected civil unions as unequal?)

Adversaries of gay rights quickly denounced the decision, calling it “unconstitutional.”

A long-standing critic of gay rights, Iowa Rep. Steve King – whose amusing ramblings on the subject include comparing gay people to unicorns and leprechauns, “Unicorns, leprechauns, gay marriages in Iowa – these are things you will never find because they just don't exist,” and insists being gay is a choice – said the decision would make Iowa “the gay marriage Mecca” in beating the drum for a marriage amendment.

It was the theme of the day: amend the constitution.

On the steps of the Iowa Supreme Court, Danny Carroll, a former Republican legislator and chairman of the Iowa Family Policy Center, told reporters: “Courts do not determine law, people determine law.”

Some critics groused it was a blow to democracy: “Same-sex 'marriage' continues to be a movement driven by a liberal judicial elite determined to destroy not only the institution of marriage, but democracy as well,” fumed Tony Perkins, president of the socially conservative Family Research Council.

Phyllis Schlafly evoked the spirits of right wing defeats of the past in her battle cry: “The American people will not continue to stand by silently in the face of more and more of these activist court rulings that openly defy the will of the people,” the Eagle Forum president said.

And so did Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber: “The Iowa Supreme court has earned its rightful place in the judicial activism hall of shame.”

“If you think you saw a fight in California to restore natural marriage with the successful passage of Proposition 8, then hold on to your hats,” Barber blustered.

But it is Barber who should consider grabbing hold of his helmet; undoing the court's decision will not be as simple as in California where a simple referendum sufficed. And gay activists in Iowa have one huge advantage: time.

Passing a constitutional amendment in Iowa requires approval by both chambers of the Legislature in two consecutive legislative sessions and a majority vote of the people. The earliest that could be accomplished is 2012, if lawmakers acted this year, which does not appear likely. (Democratic legislative leaders applauded the decision.)

Nate Silver, a statistician at, broke it down this way: “Voter initiatives to ban gay marriage are becoming harder and harder to pass every year.”

The site analyzed gay marriage bans of yesteryear and concluded that such measures are loosing ground at a rate of slightly less than 2 points per year. Silver's model accurately predicted the outcome of Proposition 8, the California initiative that placed a gay marriage ban in the state's constitution.

The model predicts a win for gay marriage ban supporters with 56% of the vote, in 2009. But by 2013, the pendulum would swing in the opposite direction. (In case you're still in doubt, Silver also accurately predicted the outcome of every state and national race on November 4 – he's a stats man's statistician)

What gay rights opponents fail to grasp is that in calling for a vote by the people they are simply talking themselves into a corner. Because the people are on the move to the side of equality. But good luck with that 'cause time's wasting.

The Gay Slant is a weekly feature of On Top Magazine. Walter Weeks is a writer for On Top and can be reached at