Republicans in both the Iowa House and Senate tried to push a marriage amendment yesterday.  Both initiatives failed.

Jason Clayworth of The Des Moines Register reports:

What Republicans wanted was the right to pull House Joint Resolution 6 out of a committee so that it would be placed on the debate calendar and avoid a legislative deadline this week.

The effort failed in the Senate where a vote was not taken. However,  all 18 Senate Republicans signed a petition circulated by Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, as well as one Democratic senator, Tom Hancock, D-Epworth. They needed 26.

The House spent almost 30 minutes on a rarely used “call-of-the-House” in which each of the 100 members were ordered into the chambers to vote unless they were previously excused.  The House measure ultimately failed in a 45 to 54 vote that was mostly along party lines.

Rep. Dolores Mertz Ottosen (sic – Ottosen is the town she lives in, not her name), was the only House Democrat to vote in favor of pushing the resolution out of Committee. Rep. Mark Kuhn, D-Charles City, was previously excused for personal reasons.

First thank you to the Iowa House Republicans and Iowa Senate Republicans for making an attempt at this.  The outcome while disappointing is not surprising as the outcome was pretty evident based on what Speaker Pat Murphy and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal have said.

A special thank you to Senator Tom Hancock (D-Epworth) and Representative Delores Mertz (D-Ottosen) for going against their caucus and standing on their principles.  They both have said they support the traditional definition of marriage being between one man and one woman, I am thankful they took action to back up their words.

One thing the House Republicans were successful at doing is getting Democrats to vote so they are on record.  Don’t buy into this being a “procedure vote.”  They had the opportunity to allow full debate on this and they punted.  In particular you had several House Democrats who have said they support traditional marriage, but yet failed to act yesterday.

For instance Representative Mike Reasoner (D-Creston) who introduced HJR 2001, but yet failed to vote in favor of it.  Newly elected Representative, Curt Hanson (D-Fairfield) campaigned on traditional marriage, but yet when he had the chance to act.  He did nothing.  Then we have Representative Wayne Ford (D-Des Moines), Representative Geri Huser (D-Altoona), Representative Larry Marek (D-Riverside), Representative Brian Quirk (D-New Hampton), and Representative Kurt Swaim (D-Bloomfield) have said they supported traditional marriage and instead hit behind Speaker Murphy and company.  Remember this in November if you live in their district and their opponents would be wise to point out their vote on HJR 2001.

The Legislative Republicans did their part, but one thing that could have been done differently is letting the people know as Craig Robinson over at The Iowa Republican points out:

For the most part, reaction to the legislative Republicans procedural moves has been positive, but did Republicans really do everything they could to advance the marriage amendment? I don’t think so. Missing from all the action today was one critical component – the people of Iowa.

Legislative Republicans did do their part. They read the rules, made the correct motions at the right time, but nothing was done to put pressure on these Democrats who claim to support traditional marriage. It’s probably a safe bet that most people in these Democrats’ districts still don’t know the vote event took place. They might not know until they get a piece of mail sometime this fall.

Instead of keeping the timing of these procedural moves secret, Republicans and groups like the Iowa Family Policy Center should have been putting public pressure on enough Democrats to pass the House initiative or support the Senate’s discharge petition.

He is right.  I didn’t know this was happening until the morning of.  With some advance notice we could have sent a bunch of emails and melted the phones on this issue, but that is an opportunity lost.

So what is next?  Well nothing more can be done this session.  Speaker Pat Murphy did point what one of our next steps should be when he said to Clayworth:

“They can go ahead and use” the House vote in this fall’s elections. “I would advise Republicans that ‘It’s the economy, stupid,’” said House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque and a long-time civil rights advocate borrowing a famous quote used by Bill Clinton during his successful 1992 presidential campaign.

Ok we should and I’m sure we will, and I don’t think the economy will be a winning issue for the either.  The House Democrats mentioned above will be vulnerable.  We should work hard at electing conservatives (both fiscal and social) to the Iowa House and Iowa Senate.

Next their is the retention vote in 2010 for three of the Iowa Supreme Court justices.  Vote no to retention.  Free them up to run for the Iowa House and Senate since they seem to want to be legislators.  Send a message to the Court that we will not tolerate them acting outside of their constitutional role.

Then vote yes on having a constitutional convention because otherwise we are looking at the earliest Iowans being able to have a vote if we have to wait on the Legislature is 2013.  I believe the pros outweigh the cons at this point.  Robinson has a great suggestion of keeping mayhem at bay by focusing only on passing a ballot initiative amendment to give Iowans a third option to pass a constitutional amendment in order to keep judicial activism in check.

Legislative Democrats have punted on marriage, but we need to stay the course.

Update: Danny Carroll, former legislator and current chairman of Iowa Family Policy Center wrote a detailed explanation of the House vote that I think is helpful in understanding the process.

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