Social conservatives in Iowa are threatening to work against the campaign of any elected official who does not support repeal of gay marriage in the state.

The Iowa Family Policy Center, the state's most vocal supporter of putting a 2009 state Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage up for a popular vote, and a group called Purpose Ministries have collected signatures from over 800 Iowa clergy, putting candidates for elected office on notice: support banning gay marriage or forgo their support.

At a press conference Wednesday in Des Moines, Iowa Family Policy Center president Chuck Hurley said all statewide candidates to elected office in Iowa will be presented with the petitions.

“Whether they see the light, we believe and we hope that they will feel the heat,” Hurley told Radio Iowa.

“These petitions, signed by hundreds of church leaders from all over Iowa, send a loud clear message to any candidate running for office in Iowa: Don't deny the people their right to vote on this issue or you will lose our votes,” Rev. Brad Sherman, pastor of Solid Rock Christian Center in Coralville and founder of Purpose Ministries, said.

“To the court: Thank you for your opinion, but no thanks,” Sherman said. “And to the Legislature: Stop representing the homosexual lobby that's based primarily and funded primarily outside of Iowa and begin to represent the people of Iowa that elected you. Otherwise, we believe a pink slip is coming your way.”

Social conservatives are fuming that Democrats in the Legislature have blocked passage of Republican-sponsored resolutions that would begin the process of amending the Iowa Constitution to define marriage as a heterosexual union.

While all Republican Iowa gubernatorial candidates support repeal of gay marriage, Bob Vander Plaats, who often speaks about the issue at anti-gay marriage rallies, has a padlock on the issue. He's pledged, if elected, to halt such weddings in the state with an executive order until the issue is decided by voters. His vocal opposition to marriage equality has earned him the endorsement of the Iowa Family Policy Center.

A recent poll, however, shows former Governor Terry Branstad with a 15-point lead over Vander Plaats, his closest rival, for the Republican nomination. Branstad is the only GOP gubernatorial nominee that supports limited gay rights, saying last February, “Well, I don't think people should be discriminated against.”

Earlier this year, 167 Iowa clergy signed onto a petition urging legislators to stand firm against attempts to roll back marriage equality in the state. Hurley called those signers “pseudo” pastors, referring to the 834 clergy who signed his group's petition as “real” pastors.