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Amending the Iowa Constitution Would Take Time:

I expect there'll be a rather politically popular movement afoot to amend the Iowa Constitution in order to overturn the Iowa Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision. (The court, after all, was applying the Iowa Constitution that was enacted by the people of Iowa; the people of the state of Iowa are entitled to change the constitution just as they were enacted to enact it in the first place.) But amending the Iowa Constitution is a slow process -- here are the relevant state constitutional provisions, from Article X of the constitution (some line breaks added):

§ 1. Any amendment or amendments to this constitution may be proposed in either house of the general assembly; and if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of the members elected to each of the two houses, such proposed amendment shall be entered on their journals, with the yeas and nays taken thereon, and referred to the legislature to be chosen at the next general election, and shall be published, as provided by law, for three months previous to the time of making such choice;
   and if, in the general assembly so next chosen as aforesaid, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be agreed to, by a majority of all the members elected to each house, then it shall be the duty of the general assembly to submit such proposed amendment or amendments to the people, in such manner, and at such time as the general assembly shall provide;
   and if the people shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments, by a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the general assembly, voting thereon, such amendment or amendments shall become a part of the constitution of this state....

§ 3. At the general election to be held in the year one thousand nine hundred and seventy, and in each tenth year thereafter, and also at such times as the general assembly may, by law, provide, the question, "Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution, and propose amendment or amendments to same?" shall be decided by the electors qualified to vote for members of the general assembly;
   and in case a majority of the electors so qualified, voting at such election, for and against such proposition, shall decide in favor of a convention for such purpose, the general assembly, at its next session, shall provide by law for the election of delegates to such convention, and for submitting the results of said convention to the people, in such manner and at such time as the general assembly shall provide;
   and if the people shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments, by a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the general assembly, voting thereon, such amendment or amendments shall become a part of the constitution of this state.
   If two or more amendments shall be submitted at the same time, they shall be submitted in such a manner that electors may vote for or against each such amendment separately.

On the road for the next few days, and not sure I'll be able to blog more until next Tuesday.

einhverfr (mail) (www):
Unlike California, this process seems reasonable regarding equal protection.
4.3.2009 1:27pm
Steve:
This site suggests that a constitutional amendment could not go before the voters before November 2013 at the earliest, due to the requirement that any proposed amendment be ratified by two successive sessions of the Legislature before it can be submitted to a popular vote.
4.3.2009 1:33pm
Bill Quick (mail) (www):
I expect there'll be a rather politically popular movement afoot to amend the Iowa Constitution in order to overturn the Iowa Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision.




Or not:

Iowa Supreme Court: Gay Marriage Decision TOMORROW / Queerty
The poll shows that Iowans are divided on whether the state constitution should be changed to ban gay marriage—48 percent support changing the constitution, while 47 percent are opposed.

The random telephone survey of 801 Iowa adults was taken Feb. 17-20. The poll has a sampling margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
4.3.2009 1:35pm
Down from the Ivory Tower:
Looks like equal marriage rights are going to take root in Iowa. By 2011-2012 it will be a non-issue, even there. Makes me proud to be a Midwesterner.
4.3.2009 1:38pm
studentactivism.net (www):
The majority leaders of the two houses of the Iowa state legislature released a joint statement this morning embracing the ruling as an example of "Iowa common sense and Iowa common decency."

Given that, plus the fact that the legislature passed a gay rights law just two years ago, plus the fact that the MA example shows that opposition to gay marriage tends to erode once it's a reality on the ground, it's not at all clear to me that there will ever be a referendum in Iowa.
4.3.2009 1:44pm
Bill Quick (mail) (www):
Or still not:

Lawmaker Prepares For Same-Sex Marriage Ruling - Des Moines News Story - KCCI Des Moines
A bill is currently being drafted in the Iowa Legislature that would propose a constitutional amendment allowing Iowans to vote on the issue of same sex marriage. Lawmakers said it likely wouldn't be debated during this year's session.
4.3.2009 1:44pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

suggests that a constitutional amendment could not go before the voters before November 2013 at the earliest, due to the requirement that any proposed amendment be ratified by two successive sessions of the Legislature before it can be submitted to a popular vote.

The earliest that an amendment could go to a vote of the people is actually in 2011. Assuming legislative sessions meeting in 2010 and 2011 would pass it. The site linked to assumes the current Democrat majority would not pass a proposed amendment, and a Republican majority would have to be elected in 2010.

If the legislation depends on a Republican majority, it will not happen, as the current leadership of the Republican party of Iowa is inept. However, based on what happened on this issue in other states, this could overcome their ineptitude.
4.3.2009 1:47pm
Houston Lawyer:
It appears that the majority of states that amended their state constitutions to forestall such a result were quite prescient.
4.3.2009 1:47pm
martinned (mail) (www):

It appears that the majority of states that amended their state constitutions to forestall such a result were quite prescientbigots.

There, FIFY.

[I know FIFY comments are annoying, but in this case I couldn't resist.]
4.3.2009 1:51pm
Any (mail):
Iowa Supreme Court said gay-YES!
See the actual video.
video
4.3.2009 1:53pm
rosetta's stones:

"...the MA example shows that opposition to gay marriage tends to erode once it's a reality on the ground..."


Yes, that is the strategy, which requires only the erosive action of a few blackrobed fascists, to create that "reality on the ground".
4.3.2009 2:08pm
Just Dropping By (mail):
Is "sarcastro" posting as "scattergood" and "rosetta's stones" these days? I can't tell.
4.3.2009 2:13pm
TheRadical (mail):
If the people of Iowa had the right to statewide ballot initiative like in California or neighboring Missouri, Nebraska, S. Dakota and Illinois then the people could just decide this as the ballot whether than rely on legislators and courts.
4.3.2009 2:14pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

If the people of Iowa had the right to statewide ballot initiative like in California or neighboring Missouri, Nebraska, S. Dakota and Illinois then the people could just decide this as the ballot whether than rely on legislators and courts.

But there is no initiative process in Iowa, so the people should elect legislators that will do what the people want. Maybe they already did.
4.3.2009 2:23pm
Kazinski:
I'd be deadset against a anti-SSM constitutional amendment in my state if I could be sure that the matter would be left to the legislature or a vote of the people.

But since so many state supreme courts see their job as being a super-legislature then they can't be trusted.
4.3.2009 2:24pm
Steve:
If the people of Iowa had the right to statewide ballot initiative like in California or neighboring Missouri, Nebraska, S. Dakota and Illinois then the people could just decide this as the ballot whether than rely on legislators and courts.

That's true. Some people believe in empowering the courts to protect their rights, some people prefer to have a system where all rights are subject to reversal by the will of the majority. That's why each state gets to set up its own system.
4.3.2009 2:26pm
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
"That's true. Some people believe in empowering the courts to protect their rights, some people prefer to have a system where all rights are subject to reversal by the will of the majority. That's why each state gets to set up its own system."

Until the Supreme step in and we get to see how 5-9 lawyers with no accountability are smarter than the 50 laboratories of democracy. Then we just get to genuflect, because criticism of the Court is a dire threat to its independence.
4.3.2009 2:32pm
Basketball fan (mail):
martinned,

It must be nice to own teh One True Way to understand teh Universe.

I'm curious, what's it like, "knowing" that everyone who disagrees with you (which, at this point, is a majority of the voters of every place that's given voters the opportunity to decide) is wrong, adn that you, as a member of the blessed elite, are "right"?
4.3.2009 3:02pm
Greg Q (mail) (www):
studentactivism.net,

You don't pay a lot of attention to the news, do you? The Dems in the MA State Legislature violated the law, and refused to let the issue of whether or not there should be a Constitutional Amendment v. Court created SSM come to a vote, because they knew that, if it did get voted on, a majority of the State legislature would vote to put it on the ballot.

"Democrat" leaders have kept people from voting on it is not the same thing as "people don't care.
4.3.2009 3:06pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
The following Daily Kos diary is not mine, but I thought people might find it of interest:

Youtube Video

Daily Kos Diary: Gay Iowa Senator explains why Iowa marriage won’t be reversed
4.3.2009 3:07pm
theobromophile (www):
My family law professor said that gay marriage activists focus their legal battles on states that have a long, difficult process for amending their constitutions. (Apparently, they learned the hard way after Hawaii.) This ensures that a favourable ruling will not be immediately overturned by constitutional amendment.

That aside, I wonder if the numbers in Iowa would change. It's easy, before a court decision has come down, to say that you're not really in favour of amending the constitution to prevent a result that is entirely theoretical. That might change now.

Of course, the real solution to all this is to have civil unions for everyone, and get government out of marriage entirely.
4.3.2009 3:08pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Basketball fan: Excuse me, could you please indicate what it is I said that upset you? That way I can at least defend myself.
4.3.2009 3:13pm
The Unbeliever:
Lawmakers said it likely wouldn't be debated during this year's session.
This is the kind of bold, example-setting political leadership that we so badly need in this country. Thank goodness our politicians are eager and ready to let thorny issues slide in the desperate hope that it will go away and no one will remember it next election day.

Now if only we get get the same won't-be-debated mentality going about this "stimulus" crap passing through Congress...
4.3.2009 3:21pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

Lawmakers said it likely wouldn't be debated during this year's session.

This is the kind of bold, example-setting political leadership that we so badly need in this country. Thank goodness our politicians are eager and ready to let thorny issues slide in the desperate hope that it will go away and no one will remember it next election day.

It isn't likely to be debated in this year's session because this year's session is getting close to being done. To get any bill that was not introduced several weeks ago to the floor for debate now would require a suspension of rules, and most legislators are ready for the session to be done. It also ultimately would not save any time. Whether the 83rd General Assembly passes an amendment this year or next, the amendment cannot be presented in an election until after the 84th GA passes it in the same form. The 84th GA does not convene until January 2011.
4.3.2009 3:43pm
Randy R. (mail):
"I'm curious, what's it like, "knowing" that everyone who disagrees with you (which, at this point, is a majority of the voters of every place that's given voters the opportunity to decide) is wrong, adn that you, as a member of the blessed elite, are "right"?


Actually, back in the 70s, various local legislatures voted to protect gays in the areas of housing and employment. The people got so angry over this, that many of these went to a direct vote of the people. And in every single case, the voters reserved the blessed elite and removed those protections.

Today, of course, not only to those same jurisdictions have those very protections for gays, many more do as well. It only took about 30 years to reverse those initial ballots.

I predict the same with SSM. Within ten years or so, the people will vote to reverse and progress will march on.
4.3.2009 3:49pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Thank goodness our politicians are eager and ready to let thorny issues slide in the desperate hope that it will go away and no one will remember it next election day.


Consider what is happening right now in VT. (WSJ)


The Democratic-controlled house voted 95-52 in favor of the bill, which had already cleared the state Senate in a 26-4 vote.

The House is 5 votes short of 2/3. The Republican governor gave that same excuse for vetoing it.
4.3.2009 4:04pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Theobromophile:

My family law professor said that gay marriage activists focus their legal battles on states that have a long, difficult process for amending their constitutions. (Apparently, they learned the hard way after Hawaii.) This ensures that a favourable ruling will not be immediately overturned by constitutional amendment.


Counter-example being California?
4.3.2009 4:35pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Basketball fan:

Ok, having looked at this decision, it seems to me that the Iowa court is exactly right as it involves the Iowa State Constitution. I suppose the question becomes, don't we want a rule of law in this country? Or would we rather have a mob rule where the majority doesn't have to care about the rights of the minority?

Furthermore, what should give you standing to even CARE if you don't live in Iowa? Why should you assume the court is just being activist as it involves their State Constitution and over a hundred years of jurisprudence?

Must be nice being one of the "blessed elite" of social "conservatism" right?
4.3.2009 4:39pm
Randy R. (mail):
Unbeliever:"This is the kind of bold, example-setting political leadership that we so badly need in this country. Thank goodness our politicians are eager and ready to let thorny issues slide in the desperate hope that it will go away and no one will remember it next election day. "

Thorny only to those who oppose SSM. And they are getting fewer and fewer every day.

Perhaps the legislature is thinking that we'll see how it all plays out for the next three years, and then decide if society has totally collapsed or not. It hasn't anywhere else, so I imagine this will be seen as ho hum in 2012.
4.3.2009 6:37pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Randy R:

Actually it is just respect for the rules. Trying to get it debated this year would require suspending normal rules.

That is all. By default nothing will happen this session. Making something happen will require a lot of process/aggrevation/etc.
4.3.2009 7:50pm
J. Aldridge:
A shame the Constitution is required to be amended. Laws of restricting kinds of marriages is go back to colonial times and have been demosrtated through the ages to have nothing to do with the equal protection of the laws of due process.
4.3.2009 10:56pm
Splunge:
It's strange to read the opinions of people who are (or seem to be) quietly confident that the plain passage of time will bring majority, even overwhelming, support for redefining marriage to include homosexual bonds, probably in a very short time -- and yet who favor imposition of such a thing a few years earlier by judicial fiat, and in the face of strong majority opposition.

That's not logically consistent, on its face. Why burn substantial political capital -- risk political careers, angry backlash, et cetera -- when you can just wait a mere two Presidential election cycles and it will all happen smooth as butter, to cheering crowds and good feelings all around? It's not like any gay person interested in marrying today will need to grow much older before he can (and the issue of the practical benefit of marriage, even assuming there is any, is moot, since advocates have explicity rejected any 'separate but equal' institution).

I can think of only two plausible explanations: (1) it's all an act of false bravado; these people are anything but confident but believe they can influence the majority by pretending a bandwagon exists and it's time to jump on, or (2) there's some vengeful pleasure in unnecessarily jamming it down the throats of those who oppose it a little earlier, knowing that by the time they get to their feet for the return swing it will be too late, they will be in the minority.

Both stink like week-old fish. I'm tending to think if you really believe time is on your side, you should maybe STFU and give your slowpoke neighbors that time, in the interests of that same mutual tolerance and respect for diversity of lifestyle, opinion, values et cetera you so loudly trumpet.

And if you don't think time is on your side, well, self-preservation suggests you avoid the pretense of confidence, as it will totally thrash your credibility when time proves your confidence misplaced.
4.3.2009 11:25pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
J Aldridge:

What exactly do colonial times have to do with a legal document adopted in 1857?
4.4.2009 12:30am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Also regarding the age of consent and religious groups. In Pennsylvania for a while, the age one could consent to get married was something like 7, and the only required process was to get friends together and announce you were married.

This wasn't a Muslim influence, but rather a Quaker one.
4.4.2009 12:34am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
oops, wrong thread.
4.4.2009 12:35am
J. Aldridge:
einhverfr wrote: "J Aldridge: What exactly do colonial times have to do with a legal document adopted in 1857?"

There was no 14th amendment in 1857!!!!!
4.4.2009 6:56am
J. Aldridge:
^^^ The court said Section 6 was an identical import of the 14 amendment.
4.4.2009 11:41am
einhverfr (mail) (www):

There was no 14th amendment in 1857!!!!!
...
The court said Section 6 was an identical import of the 14 amendment.


Not quite. They did not say it was identical. Actually, they said it was STRONGER than the 14th amendment and provided a string of existing case law to prove it. For example, these included the finding that slavery violated a similar clause even before the Dred Scott case, and that it protected the right of women to enter law school at a time when the US Surpreme Court upheld bans on that practice in other states.

However, they did adopt a similar framework for addressing it as is generally found in 14th amendment jurisprudence. So it seems that what they were addressing was the question of whether that section fulfilled the state's obligations under the 14th amendment, which seems to me to be proper.
4.4.2009 8:02pm
J. Aldridge:
The court said, "we view the federal and state equal protection clauses as ‘identical in scope, import, and purpose.”

The Equal Protection Clause under the 14th amendment was defined as the words of the 40th chapter of the Magna Charta and deals not with general civil laws but laws of the land that protects life, liberty and property in the administration of justice. Iowa's section six and the 14th's equal protection clause are two different animals.
4.4.2009 8:56pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
J. Aldridge:

I think you are interpreting the ruling through snippets.

Upholding DOMA wouldnt necessarily reverse the court's ruling, just force rewording of some sections IMO.
4.5.2009 1:39am
GreenGiant:
@Splunge

It's strange to read the opinions of people who are (or seem to be) quietly confident that the plain passage of time will bring majority, even overwhelming, support for redefining marriage to include homosexual bonds, probably in a very short time -- and yet who favor imposition of such a thing a few years earlier by judicial fiat, and in the face of strong majority opposition.

You seem to misunderstand the role of the courts and how an issue like marriage discrimination reaches the courts. A citizen felt unfairly treated and so took thier greivance to the courts. There is no big conspiracy or gay star chamber pulling the strings. There are citizens looking to the courts to right a wrong.

Imagine you were not allowed a right the rest of society has. Would you decide to just sit on your hands and wait for the passage of time to resolve the issue, meanwhile missing out on thousands of rights afforded your fellow citizens that put your family at a relative disadvantage? Or, would you seek recource in the courts? If one is wronged or is the subject of discrimination, the time is now. When it comes to me and my family, justice will wait for no one.
4.5.2009 2:40am
Jim Henderson (mail) (www):
Actually, perhaps it would just be quicker to IMPEACH the justices of the IOWA SUPREME COURT. MALFEASANCE in office is grounds for impeachment, and justices of the IOWA SUPREME COURT are subject to impeachment by the Iowa House and trial in the Iowa Senate (as the provisions below indicate). Pipe dream? Perhaps. But there's is no doubt that in logic, and in history, and in the intention of those that crafted Iowa's Constitution, that the decision of the Iowa Supreme Court was abusive, dishonest, and corrupt.




Impeachment. SEC. 19. The house of representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment, and all impeachments shall be tried by the senate. When sitting for that purpose, the senators shall be upon oath or affirmation; and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.
Referred to in Art. V, §19

Officers subject to impeachment--judgment. SEC. 20. The governor, judges of the supreme and district courts, and other state officers, shall be liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor or malfeasance in office; but judgment in such cases shall extend only to removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust, or profit, under this state; but the party convicted or acquitted shall nevertheless be liable to indictment, trial, and punishment, according to law. All other civil officers shall be tried for misdemeanors and malfeasance in office, in such manner as the general assembly may provide.
4.5.2009 10:00am
Michael Ejercito (mail) (www):
Equal protection is defined by the standards of each generation.

This would mean that the applicability of equal protection to laws about same-sex "marriage" is defined by the standards of each generation.
4.5.2009 1:15pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Simply impeaching justices would still require them with right-wing folks unbound by stare decisis in order to get such a reversal.
4.5.2009 3:37pm
J. Aldridge:
Apparently section 6 of the Iowa constitution was borrowed from the Indiana constitution of 1851. It's meaning and purpose was to prevent the state from creating monopolies by granting exclusive privileges to one or more citizens. This was the same rational which Iowa had adopted it during its constitutional convention - makes it very puzzling how the court can say it provides equal protection of the laws. Other states who adopted the language viewed it as an anti-monopoly doctrine then anything remotely offering equal protection.

Iowa Supreme Court justices need to be fired and required to study history of their own Constitution since they have demonstrated they are significantly clueless with its history.
4.6.2009 6:16am

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