Huge day for marriage equality in Iowa

Supporters of LGBT equality are celebrating yesterday's votes for same-sex marriage rights in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, as well as Minnesotans rejecting a constitutional amendment designed to restrict marriage rights to heterosexuals.

The election also slammed the door on any prospect of overturning marriage equality in Iowa.

Iowa Democrats will hold at least 26 seats in the Iowa Senate, with Senate district 28 still too close to call and Senate district 22 to be decided in a December 11 special election.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, who won re-election in Senate district 8, welcomed the Iowa Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien decision in 2009. He has blocked many attempts by Republicans to force a floor vote on a constitutional amendment to overturn marriage equality. He showed exceptional ability to hold his 26 members together during the 2011 and 2012 sessions, even on tough social issues. Iowa House Republicans approved a constitutional amendment on marriage in 2011 and may have the votes to do that again next year, but the measure will die in the Senate.

Under Iowa's procedure for changing the constitution, an amendment must pass both the state House and Senate during two separately elected sessions before going to the voters for approval. So before any measure overturning marriage equality could appear on a statewide ballot, Republicans would need to hold their Iowa House majority and win back the Senate in 2014, pass the amendment in 2015 or 2016, keep control of both chambers in 2016, and pass the amendment again in 2017 or 2018.

Meanwhile, polls show more and more Iowans support same-sex marriage rights. So even if Republicans are able to push the issue during future legislative sessions, their chances of winning a popular vote will be slim.

Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins also survived yesterday's retention vote despite two rounds of television commercials by the same crowd who ousted three Iowa Supreme Court justices in 2010. The last three justices who concurred in Varnum v Brien won't be up for retention until 2016.

I can't see how social conservatives could persuade a majority of Iowans to vote no on Chief Justice Mark Cady, Justice Daryl Hecht, and Justice Brent Appel four years from now. Not only is popular acceptance of marriage equality growing, those judges won't have the other baggage that dragged down Wiggins' rating with Iowa Bar Association members this year.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

P.S. - Daniel Lundby became the first openly gay person elected to the Iowa House yesterday by defeating Republican Nick Wagner in House district 68. His late mother was longtime State Senator Mary Lundby, one of four Iowa Senate Republicans to vote against a constitutional amendment on marriage in 2004. That amendment failed by a single vote in the upper chamber. If it had passed, Iowans would have long ago voted to restrict marriage to one man and one woman, and the Varnum v Brien ruling would never have happened.

P.P.S - By a narrow margin, Iowans in Senate district 26 elected Democrat Mary Jo Wilhelm over Republican Merlin Bartz. One of the legislature's most outspoken opponents of marriage equality, Bartz promoted a petition drive in April 2009 urging county recorders not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Along with Gronstal's race in Senate district 8, the Bartz/Wilhelm race was a top priority for Bob Vander Plaats' FAMiLY Leader organization.

  • congrats

    on holding the senate. It was feeling a little 2010-ish yesterday for a moment.

    SSM was largely a non-issue in MD, save the campaign by the "consequences guy," who appears to have suffered a shutout nationwide. Interestingly enough, one of the LGBT groups at the flagship state campus took a neutral position on the SSM ballot position, stating that "marriage" was a narrow issue for the community.

    I'm surprised Lundby won, but not because he's gay -- but that NW was a good fit for the district. OTOH, I saw news of a sentimental bridge dedication for Lundby's mother, and it crossed my mind at the time that his mother's memory might be more powerful than I'd first imagined.

    Tammy Baldwin OTOH, well, just wow. Good for her. An openly gay MD state rep has declared for the 2014 governor race. I'd be surprised if she wins due to her home location in the state (Takoma Park, for those who know the area).

    IMO, Gronstal's re-election was never in doubt.

  • bartz

    also went after the Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth before it was cool to do so.  tried to use his position to bully workshop presenters and school staff who attend.  that one makes me smile.  😀

  • equal rights under the law

    There are some MD pols this morning touting MD's "firsts," including the first state to approve a state-level DREAM Act.

    I decided to stay in  MD to volunteer time for two ballot initiatives: DREAM/marriage equality instead of taking in a swingier atmosphere. DREAM passed almost 60-40. I am very proud of Marylanders who passed these initiatives without the fanfare of the national race to help -- no 15min of fame at national conventions, no spotlights -- just getting it done. I do expect Gov O'Malley to roll into 2016 with some real advantages when pitching the base. Here you have someone who worked hard to get Obama re-elected (unlike Cuomo) and who will take credit for shepherding through two (in principle) contentious ballot issues and to boot, has a solid record with environmentalists. Look out.

    I think the Republicans are pretty much "done" when it comes to their "severely" conservative and anti-immigrant factions. Personally, I feel that Romney ran a pretty decent campaign but besides getting out of the gate (too) late, also suffered millstones like Akin & Mourdock & some of those other fringe crazies with names that escape me at the moment in places like AZ.

    • I agree

      a great night for Marylanders and our governor. Absent Hillary deciding to ceremoniously accept the nomination, O'Malley is likely to be a strong contender. Iowans, get ready to know our gubernator!

      Plus, I'm very pleased to have bombed in the BH election prediction contest!

      • never been happier to be wrong

        I had Democrats losing the Iowa Senate.

        I was impressed with O'Malley at the Harkin Steak Fry, but I think Hillary is going to run in 2016 and clear the field.

        • Marital disagreement on this

          I'm with you, I think Hillary will run and it will be the most boring primary ever. Not sure she would even get token opposition. But my wife disagrees strongly, thinking Hillary won't run.

          • I can't think of any reason

            for her not to run, barring some kind of health problem.

          • Hillary running

            wouldn't be a bad thing for MOM. He endorsed her in '08 and stuck w/ it all the way to the convention, as did Tony Brown. While he'd have to defer a presidential run, he'd be nicely positioned for anything ranging from VP to DHS or ...

        • They thought Hillary would "clear the field" in '07-08.

          But then some guy improbably named Barack Obama showed up. One thing she has going for her this time is her successful 4 years as SOS.

          I caucused for Hillary, probably will again in '16.

          • different story now

            She is way more popular than she was in 2006-2007. She is the most popular member of Obama's cabinet, almost universally perceived to have handled an important job very well. Bill Clinton's stock has risen too.

            A lot of Democrats feared she wouldn't be able to win a general election in 2007. Who would worry about that now, especially given the direction the Republican Party has moved and the demographic trends? I'm not saying she would be guaranteed to win, but clearly she would be well-positioned against almost any GOP candidate I can imagine.

          • interesting

            I caucused for Hillary, probably will again in '16.

            I was in several spots in western IA during the weeks before the caucus for her campaign. Wonder if I ever bumped into you ...

            I think her current popularity is due to her being safely out of the way, frankly speaking. Second issue I see is that younger voters tend to favor younger candidates, part of Obama's appeal that helped him defeat her in 2008.

      • mixed feelings

        very pleased to have bombed

        today people are crowing "realignment" once again, reminiscent of 2008. The affinity of Obama's coalition for the candidate is not a Dem phenomenon.

        State after state in 2008, people looked up demographics by state and successfully predicted the outcome. Same people "bombed" Brown/Corzine, 2010 midterm, WI-recall and probably other things I just can't remember right now because the very predictable (African-American, etc) largely did not participate.

        Obama has credibility and chits to spare w/ the coalition that a generic Democrat does not have. I was surprised at his success in turning them out again. However, the actual numbers in most of the swing states were quite close, so it is foolish to take for granted that this is reproducible in the future. Especially since a lot of the people who voted for him despite disappointment are willing to give him a second chance. I am pleased with their generosity, and I hope he repays in kind instead of breaking bread with intransigent Republicans and other excuses.

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