Conservative lawmakers are watching public opinion move away from them on the gay marriage issue, and now fear that voters might not approve a ban even if the GOP can put one on the ballot by winning control of the Legislature in the November elections. The shifting views come as a bitter disappointment for the state's prominent Christian conservative community which has long bridled at Iowa's status as a gay rights haven in the heartland — the only place outside the Northeast where gays can marry.Personally, I am always skeptical about what people say about gay and lesbian families in polls and how they vote. But it's pretty exciting to see less of a legislative push to destroy a small chunk of Iowa's family.
"People are getting comfortable with it and that's a shame to tell you the truth," said Susan Geddes, an Iowa Republican and social conservative organizer who worked for Mike Huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign in the state...
Republicans can move to end gay marriage if they win two more seats in the state Senate this year, a goal that could be within reach. That would give them full control of the statehouse and the power to begin preparing a public referendum on the issue. But the legislative process would take at least two years, and public interest in the cause is already declining. A Des Moines Register poll in February showed 56 percent of Iowans opposed an amendment banning gay marriage, up slightly from a year earlier. The results tracked with the trend in national opinion on the issue.
Geddes, who is managing a handful of GOP statehouse campaigns, said internal polls in conservative Iowa districts show that fewer than 10 percent of Republican voters now consider overturning gay marriage a high priority.
GOP Senate leaders no longer list the issue high on their agenda, although they have promised to propose a ban if they control the legislature. A handful of Republican leaders, such as former county Linn County chairwoman Kathy Potts of Cedar Rapids, recently have announced support for gay marriage. "If it weren't for the loud voices of a few in our party, I do believe more Republicans would stand up in support" of gay marriage, said Potts, a social conservative who backed Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential bid...
Iowa gay rights advocates say they are encouraged by the fact that a ballot measure would come no earlier than 2015, considering it must pass both houses of the Legislature in consecutive two-year general assemblies. Meanwhile, public acceptance should continue to grow, said Des Moines lawyer Sharon Malhiero, a leading Iowa gay rights activist. "It's not a big deal, three years past. The world hasn't collapsed," she said, adding, "But we're not taking anything for granted."
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Iowans Increasingly Supportive of Gay Marriage
Iowans would not vote to constitutionally annul gay marriages even if offered the opportunity at the ballot box: