A full eighteen months out from Iowa's
2010 gubernatorial race and gay marriage is already taking center
stage in the race for the governor's office.
And while resentment towards the Iowa
Supreme Court's unanimous ruling granting gay and lesbian couples the
right to marry in the Hawkeye State continues to simmer among social
conservatives, lawmakers were still hopeful their acrimony would not
spill into next year's race.
Those hopes were dashed Monday when
likely GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats renewed his
promise to issue an executive order that would end gay marriage in
the state until a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage could
be voted on.
Vander Plaats said Monday he would sign
the order, even if it meant facing impeachment.
“I can't give the people the right to
vote on this, but I think I can mobilize people like [Senate Majority
Leader Mike] Gronstal and [House Speaker Pat] Murphy by saying no
more same-sex marriages until you step up and make this law,”
Vander Plaats told Christian radio host Steve Deace.
Unlike California's majority referendum
process, altering the state constitution in Iowa is a lengthy and
complicated process that requires legislative approval in two
consecutive sessions followed by a popular vote.
Vander Plaats demanded Iowa Governor
Chet Culver, a Democrat, issue an executive order that bans gay
marriage soon after the court overturned a ban in April to the
surprise and delight of gay activists.
Culver, who is seeking reelection in
2010, has said he does not have the authority to overrule the state
Democrats, Vander Plaats predicted,
would attempt to remove him from office, after signing the order.
“I would like to have that debate,
because then Pat Murphy has to go back to his people in Dubuque and
tell them we're going to impeach Vander Plaats because he wants the
legislature to do its job in the constitution and he also wants to
give you the right to vote,” he said. “I don't think what would
play very well.”
The issue has divided lawmakers, mostly
along party lines.
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat,
recently flipped on the issue of gay marriage, saying he would oppose
an effort to define marriage as a heterosexual union in the Iowa
constitution, while Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says he
supports a ban on gay marriage.