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Democratic lawmakers say they won’t challenge same-sex marriage ruling

April 4, 2009

DES MOINES - Democrats who control the Legislature embraced an Iowa Supreme Court decision Friday legalizing same-sex marriage in the state and said they oppose allowing lawmakers to vote on a constitutional amendment that could overturn the ruling.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said the Legislature is in its closing stretch and he doesn't want to inject the volatile issue of gay marriage into the mix.

"On this subject it is exceedingly unlikely that anything will happen on this subject in the Senate this year," said Gronstal.

Still, Republicans promised to seek a constitutional amendment.

"We will have a resolution ready Monday," said Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, R-Chariton. "The Legislature spoke when they voted for the defense of marriage act. Mike Gronstal voted for that act."

To amend the constitution, the Legislature would have to approve a resolution calling for the change during the current General Assembly. The Legislature that takes office in 2010 also would have to take action.

If approved in two consecutive General Assemblies, voters would decide the issue in a statewide election. If not taken up this session, the soonest the issue could go on the ballot would be 2012.

However, Gronstal said he's also not likely to allow debate on the issue next year.

Instead, he and House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, issued a joint statement praising the decision.

"When all is said and done, we believe the only lasting question about today's events will be why it took us so long," the leaders said. "It is a tough question to answer because treating everyone fairly is really a matter of Iowa common sense and Iowa common decency."

Gronstal and Murphy said the court action means the state will respect the commitment of couples, regardless of their sexual preference.

Friday's ruling followed a 1998 measure approved by the Legislature that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. That was the measure deemed unconstitutional first by a Polk County judge and then by the Supreme Court.



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