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Will Gay Marriage Be an Issue in 2010 in Iowa?

April 7, 2009

Des Moines, IA – The Iowa Supreme Court's decision last week to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage has sparked a firestorm of controversy - at least, for now. But will it still be an issue on everyone's lips by the next election?

Since the decision, there's been an outcry to change the Iowa constitution. However, at the University of Iowa, Associate Professor of Political Science David Redlawsk thinks such efforts to reverse the court's decision will stall. It will take time to amend the constitution, he explains - and by then, people will have become more accepting of the decision. That's what happened in Massachusetts, after its high court made a similar ruling in 2004, says Redlawsk.

"The world hadn't collapsed, the sky hadn't fallen; people were going about their lives just fine, and the anti-gay- marriage thing just fizzled out."

Iowa is now the third state to allow same-sex marriages. The court ruled that it is unconstitutional to allow only heterosexual couples to marry.

Republicans have promised to go after Democrats on the issue in 2010, but Redlawsk sees Gov. Chet Culver as perhaps the most vulnerable Iowa politician. Culver had said he would be willing to call a special session to 'protect marriage between a man and woman' - a promise that now puts the governor in a tough spot, says Redlawsk.

"He doesn't want to completely isolate the liberal Democrats; however, he doesn't want to become the target of a really concerted effort from the right, either."

A newly-released University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll shows a majority of Iowans under age 30 support gay marriage.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA