A recent poll indicates that gay marriage may be well on its way to becoming the status quo in Iowa even though its legalization is less than six months old.
A poll conducted last week by the state’s dominant newspaper, the Des Moines Register, shows an even split between Iowans over marriage with 41 percent saying they would consider voting for an amendment banning the procedure and 40 percent saying they would uphold the existing law established by way of the state Supreme Court.
That would appear to be encouraging news for traditional marriage proponents, but there is much more to be considered.
The Iowa Legislature would need to approve the movement toward a constitutional amendment in two consecutive sessions. That requires political will which equates to wide public engagement on the issue. According to the poll, 92 percent of Iowans say the law has had no real effect on their lives, even though a majority of those polled say they don’t like it.
In 2010, all the Iowa House seats are in play, as is half the Senate. There will be a governor’s race as well. Republicans are in the minority in both halves of the Legislature and the governor is a Democrat. Even though gay marriage is a topic being brought up by many GOP hopefuls, a former state party chairman concedes economic issues are more likely to rule the day.
“I think all of the candidates are going to state that they believe the people ought to be given the right to vote on a constitutional amendment. That’s a reasonable approach,” Mike Mahaffey said. “I also think when it comes down to it, the overriding issues are going to be what can we do to create jobs and put ourselves in a better position fiscally.”
The real lesson here may not be for the people of Iowa but for residents of Maine and Washington state who are considering gay marriage and an “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law, respectively. As Massachusetts can attest to over the past five years, whether you’re for it, against it or ambivalent, once gay marriage is in place removing it from the books is difficult. The defeat of Proposition 8 in California last November is a prominent exception from which Iowa opponents will likely draw motivation.