Iowa’s Republican senate minority leader Jerry Behn insists that Iowans should have the right to vote on gay people’s marriage rights during the legislative session beginning Jan. 9, despite the GOP’s recent loss in a special senate election that failed to change the balance of power in the senate. Behn debated the issue with senate majority leader Mike Gronstal, who reiterated his commitment to keeping the issue off the floor, saying, “people’s rights should not be put to a popular vote“:
GRONSTAL: If I can put, if you can put my rights to a popular vote of the people then I can put your rights to a popular vote of the people and eventually, and eventually — well, we didn’t put slavery to a vote of the people in Iowa, we didn’t put the right to go to a school in your neighborhood to a vote of the people of Iowa, we didn’t put public accommodations law to a vote of the people in Iowa. The Supreme Court said certain inalienable rights — you either — when you say the Pledge of Allegiance, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all, you don’t say for all except for gay people, you don’t say that. [...]
BEHN: It’s about Iowans being allowed to decide.
GRONSTAL: … to a vote of the people. Churches are not required to marry anybody. I just think it’s fundamentally wrong to put to a popular — it’s the whole principle …
GRONSTAL: … to protect people’s individual rights. That is, the Constitution is to protect that.
Iowa Senate rules allow the majority leader to decide the issues debated and voted on in the chamber, where Democrats currently hold a 26-24 majority. The Republican controlled-house, however, has already approved a resolution to put the state Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling in favor of marriage equality to a popular vote and defining marriage between one man and one woman. Gronstal has successfully blocked the issue in the Senate.