party lines

Why Did These 4 Iowa Democrats Join the GOP to Force a Vote on Banning Gay Marriage?


Remember last month, when Iowa was identified as a place where you could actually applaud Democrats for furthering the rights of homosexuals? Time to take it all back!

With Democrats controlling both houses of Iowa’s legislature, an attempt by Republicans to force a vote on amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage (and overturn the Supreme Court’s approval) was seen by most as a futile lawmaking effort, but an important election-timed event. And thanks to some procedural muck that even we don’t fully understand, the Dems were able to shut down the GOP push to force a vote on their bill.

But now comes word that four Senate Democrats dared cross party lines and join a Republican petition to have a full vote. It left 28 Democrats saying no, but putting Republicans just three votes away from successfully forcing a vote. Except even if they had the votes, the Dems’ move comes too late; the deadline passed for the effort to be binding.

Last week, Republicans attempted to use a procedural move, called a discharge petition, to pull Senate Joint Resolution 2001 out of committee and put it before the full Senate for debate and a vote. The bill would begin the process of amending the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. All 18 Senate Republicans were joined by Democratic state Sen. Tom Hancock of Epworth in signing the petition.

A similar attempt was made in the state House that also failed to find enough votes to bring a gay marriage ban up for a vote.

In the next few days, Black, Kreiman, Olive and Seng signed on, bringing the total to 23, just three votes short of the majority needed to force a vote on a constitutional ban on gay marriage in the Senate. Twenty-eight Democratic Senators refused to sign on.

Which makes the decision by the four Democrats — Dennis Black of Grinnell, Keith Kreiman of Bloomfield, Rich Olive of Story City and Joe Seng of Davenport — to jump teams and support letting lawmakers vote on approving discrimination all the more curious. And as yet unexplained.