Mike Gronstal, Are You Kidding Us?


Mike Gronstal, the Democratic Majority Leader in the Iowa Senate is practically throwing his body in front of the door to the voting booth, promising to block a state marriage amendment no matter how many Iowans want it. And yet today he had the chutzpah to accuse Republicans of "[stopping] at nothing to take away the constitutional rights of Iowans"?

Mike, the constitution of Iowa gives the people the right to change their constitution--by a vote of both houses in the Iowa legislature two years running. Right now you are the one man taking away the right of Iowans to vote for marriage.

Photo: OneNewsNow


  1. Paul Cook-Giles
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Do the people of Iowa have the right to amend their Constitution to take away the right of Roman Catholics or LatterDay Saints to free speech? Religion is a chosen behavior, after all... and if the People vote to take away their free speech, all the RCs and LDS would have to do is change their religion.

  2. Edwin Hewitt
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Gronstal is within his rights to act on his conscience as an elected representative - as are the voters who he represents. If Gronstal continues to block the will of the voters, then by vote they can replace him. At that point it is in the hands of the Judiciary and all bets are off.

    @Paul Cook-Giles: Churches are currently "bribed" to keep quiet in order to keep their 501 c3 tax-free status. So there is certainly pressure against free speech already. In areas of Canada, quoting the Bible against homosexual activities can be ruled a Hate Crime. So the threat you suggest is realistic.

  3. Matthew Miller
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    In Loving v Virginia the Supreme court struck down a state law saying who could marry. That was in 1967. That we are stilll arguing about this 44 years later only shows how backwards some people are.

  4. Carlos
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I 'm always amazed at how people think they have the right for a vote that takes away the rights of a group. Even worse, a vote to prohibits/deny people certain right.

    Isn't this un American.

  5. Mike Brooks
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Paul: Establishment Clause.

  6. Paul Cook-Giles
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Mike: I don't understand what the Establishment Clause has to do with this discussion. Gronstal is (effectively) saying that he will not facilitate a vote to take away a right (recognized by a unanimous Iowa Supreme Court decision). NOM is saying that the people have a right to vote to take that right to civil marriage away. I'm saying that if NOM's logic is valid, the people also have a right to vote to take away LDS's right to free speech. NOM (and others) frequently assert that being gay is a choice, and that gay people can simply choose to stop being gay. I'm saying that religion is also a choice, and that it makes as much sense for RCs to stop being RC in order to get what they (hypothetically) would want, as it does for gay people to stop being gay to get what they want (civil marriage).

    If you're saying that the Establishment Clause prohibits a law that excludes some folks from exercising their rights (either free speech or civil marriage)... the Clause says "Congress shall make no law..." It doesn't address legislation by initiative at all.

  7. TexasJoe
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    When the people are doing legislation by initiative, then they ARE Congress.

    But, the amendments to the Constitution CAN be repealed by enacting another amendment (as was the case with the prohibition of alcohol).

    So the 1st amendment could be modified to eliminate the establishment clause.

  8. ConservativeNY
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Both free speech and freedom of religion is mentioned in the Constitution and is thus protected. Homosexuality and gay marriage, however, are not mentioned in the Constitution at all.

    The only "rights" a state marriage amendment violates are the ones invented by activist judges from the bench.

  9. Paul Cook-Giles
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Nor are rights to "opposite marriage" or "privacy" mentioned in the federal Constitution, and yet somehow the federal Supreme Court has recognized those rights for decades. Google 'penumbra' and read some discussions about how some civil rights are implicit, rather than explicit, in the text of the Constitution.

    And just so we're clear... I used free speech as an example of a right that could be taken away by popular political action, in the same way that the author of this post thinks that the people of Iowa have a "right" to vote on marriage equality. Amendments to the federal constitution have been repealed in the past.. most recently the last time we tried to enforce morality through Prohibition. That didn't work out too well, did it?

  10. RolesKnowland-James
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Paul, amendments are part of our democracy, the people have a right to vote. Let the people vote on the standards of morality they want to set for their families.

  11. Tim
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    There is no right to marriage of any kind in the Constitution. What it boils down to is that NOM wants to argue that one person's right to marry is less important than another's right to take away that right to marry. That argument will never win with fair minded, rational people.

  12. Karen Grube
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Look, let's be honest. The only reason Gronstal and Kibbie and the rest of the Democrats are trying to stop the voters from voting on this issue is absolutely NOT because they think the definition of marriage (what they erroneously call a 'civil right') shouldn't be subject to the popular vote. They don't want this vote because they KNOW the voters will reject gay "marriage," as they have in every other state where the voters have been allowed to vote on this issue. They aren't defending the right of gays to marry on some high-level constitutional grounds. They're doing it solely for partisan political reasons. They want the money and influence available to them from large, wealtht gay activist groups. They could care less what the people of Iowa want.

    Gronstal will hear from the voters if he continues this nonsense, the way the Iowa judges did and the way the New Hampshire legislature heard. Count on it.

  13. ConservativeNY
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    "some civil rights are implicit, rather than explicit, in the text of the Constitution"

    Such a rationale can be used by judges to force all kinds of moral and political changes onto the American people. By your reasoning, polygamy and incestuous marriages are just as much a right defined "implicitly" in the Constitution.

    Another example of defining "implicit" civil rights is Roe vs. Wade in which the SCOTUS ruled that abortion was a constitutional right. That started a perpetual culture war with no end in sight. So that didn't work out that well either.

    Judges should NEVER declare anything to be a civil right if it is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. It is one thing for them to rule in favor of certain things if it is in line with public opinion like privacy. But judicial legislation based on personal and political ideology of the judges themselves comes too close to despotic rule.

  14. Tim
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Simple question for you Conservative: Do you have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex? If yes, where does that right come from? Certainly not from the Constitution.

  15. RolesKnowland-James
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    I agree Conservative with this:
    "Judges should NEVER declare anything to be a civil right if it is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution....." You must feel the same way about interracial and felony marriages like I do.

  16. Andrea
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Paul wrote: "Do the people of Iowa have the right to amend their Constitution to take away the right of Roman Catholics or LatterDay Saints to free speech?"

    We already know many gay activists would'd like to do just that. The fight for real marriage is just that: a fight for freedom for our and next generations.

  17. Stephen Pope
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Why does this always fall to a religious debate, and therefore a freedom of religion debate. That argument doesn't even hold water. The current definition of marriage is equal for everybody. It allows anyone that want to get married, to do so, with someone of the opposite sex. The law is the same for everyone. Homosexuals want not only special privileges, but to change the actual definition of something. If homosexual aren't allowed to in some way legalize their behavior, it is not discrimination. A vote is not taking away what is currently in place, like the illogical free speech and religious arguments above. It is required to protect and preserve Marriage, which is under attack. Homosexuals cant be married, any more than I can turn black. Sorry.

  18. kieran
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I forgot that everyone has the right to vote on the rights of others and take away rights granted to them through court. Let's get voting and reverse Brown v. Board of Education while we're at it.

  19. John Allard-Lawson
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I believe that this is the first time NOM has admitted that the process of changing the Iowa Constitution is at least a two year process. What they have not yet admitted is the reason for their urgency to have equal marriage rights rescinded in Iowa, or any other state for that matter.
    The longer equal marriage continues in Iowa, without any of the dire predictions of NOM coming to fruition, the harder it will be to sway undecided voters into believing that a marriage they are not a party to has the potential to negatively affect their marriage, family or State. It is imperative for NOM to have as little evidence about the affects of same-sex marriage as possible. All of the studies they use to demonstrate that children do better in mother/father homes are comparing mother/father to single parent. The first studies of same-sex parents/opposite-sex parents are just now coming out, and they do not support the NOM position.

  20. Combatvet
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    So I see here that - when judges don't rule the way you like they are "activist"... Seems a lot like the judicial branch is harder to influence then politicians... Except in Iowa where you essentially fired judges because they didn't do what you want. Its better when they have terns so they dont judge based on influence bur on their long judicial careers. Checks and balances- just because you and your a majority want something doesn't mean it's right. You can influence legislaters but the other two branches of gov can check that. Go to a civics class.
    There is no way you can win until you destroy the constitution by writing majority sponsored discrimination into it. Once you start the constitution will become a tool to create a society where only one powerful majority rules the rest.

  21. Matt
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    The Iowa's proposal, which would strip not only marriage but also any civil union or domestic partner rights, hurts NOM by suggesting that NOM is not being truthful in other areas (such as CA or MD) when it suggests that it supports civil unions but not marriage. If NOM's message is that we will be as anti-gay as the particular state will allow us to be, it's credibility is gone and the homophobe label will stick. What is NOM's view on civil unions and domestic partnerships? It really should have one!

  22. JT1962
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    There is no explicit right to marriage, period, in the Constitution, yet you seem to keep feeling that you and you alone have the right to it. Please share with me the exact wording in the United States Constitution where it says that marriage is a right and that it is a right granted solely to heterosexual couples because it leads to families that can biologically have children.

  23. Posted January 29, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    paul cook-giles, you said that prohibition didnt work out to well. But look at the number of deaths caused by car accidents alone because of alcohol. Look at the amount of money spent keeping drunk drivers alone in jail, and rehab clinics, insurance, medical costs. Seems to me as if legal alcohols not working out to well. My point is, opposing gay marriage is not the same as prohibition. Gays arent going off killing people to get married. nor will they, and if they do, we have a much stronger legal system now. its not perfect, i know, but its stronger. Gay marriage is simply allowing this tainted sense of belonging thats infiltrated the hearts and minds of so many peopel to be accepted. Did you know, that in many countries around the world, government leaders have proposed killing homosexuals just because of that? (public hanging, not mass killings, though, it would be like the reign of terror in france). Im not saying thats right. but it goes to show that other nations are recognizing corrupted sexual orientation, yet a etho-centric superpower cant.

  24. David
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Noone is trying to take anything away! Neither people's right to be anything, whether or not they approve of it (unlike liberals who want to ban things *they* think are "wrong"). Nor is anyone wanting to limit people's expression of their same-sex desires.

    They are voting to reaffirm the normal understanding of what *marriage* is - and always has been.

    It is in countries, or US states, where gay marriage becomes law, that something is taken away: people's right to express their belief that there is something wrong with same-sex sex.

  25. Ron
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Not to mention that Paul used as classic strawman argument.

    If marriage is a legal institution recognized by the state, then citizens have the right to dictate what that institution is.

  26. Michael
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    There is NO right to be married or not married in the US Constitution. I suspect that there is no right to be married in any state constitution. If a state wants to regulate marriage based upon the consent of the governed, that is a good thing.

  27. Kelly
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    A biased majority should never be allowed to vote on the rights of minority. Minorities will always lose. It doesn't take an Einstein to understand how unfair that is. That's why the government of Washington DC would not allow a vote either.

  28. Don
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    @ Paul.. do you believe an "implicit" right not mentioned in the state or federal constitution would allow a polygamous or incestuous marriage, or marriage to an animal?

  29. Equal2You
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    I applaud this politician for standing by the oath of office. Marriage isn't safe for anyone unless it's safe for everyone.

  30. Posted January 29, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Do the people of Iowa have the right to amend their Constitution to take away the right of Roman Catholics or LatterDay Saints to free speech?

    Yes, they can.

    Whether or not the state would have the power to enforce it is another matter.

  31. SKnowland-James
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Voters can do the same in California and amend their constitution.

  32. Little Man
    Posted January 30, 2011 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    I have a USA history book (like for High School), and it explains how the Constitution got written with some of the colonies compromising a little, but it got written, and USA became a nation - the Union.

    Soon thereafter, it became obvious that some amendments to the USA Constitution were needed, but the Constitution as a formal document already predicted that would happen, and provided a procedure for it. It stated also how the Congress would operate in detail, so that the Constitution in a sense became a living document which can change if a great majority of the Congress so desires, but protecting only certain main concepts from any kind of change (because it would destroy its consistency.)

    If we could all simply learn WHAT CAN BE, and WHAT CANNOT BE changed in this living document, a model for other countries, and if we could also learn what is in the domain of the States and what is in the domain of the Feds, according to amendments of the USA Constitution, there wouldn't be much discussion about what can be changed and what cannot through votes.

    Certainly, judges don't have the right to change the Constitution, and neither does the Supreme Court - only Congress ultimately can, in principle. But Congress itself is dependent on getting elected, and even the Supreme court depends on elected officials. So ultimately it is the vote of the people that prevails. It may take a long time, but it finally prevails.

    Certain rights cannot be changed, and they apply to all. if it is in a USA Constitutional amendment, then it can be changed, in principle. Pretty powerful USA invention - the Constitution.

  33. Posted January 30, 2011 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    @Paul Cook-Giles, the "chosen behavior" of homosexuality is not the issue, since Iowans can already indulge in that if they want to. The issue is whether homosexual sex partnerships are the same thing as the marriage of husband and wife and whether citizens can be forced by law to speak and act as if they are the same.

  34. Marty
    Posted January 30, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Karen has it under her thumb.

    Anyway, whether the right to marry is "implicit or explicit" doesn't matter -- does anyone think the people of Iowa would have ratified anything in their own constitution to permit same-sex marriage? Ever?

    Yeah, I get that a lot of people think the 14th Amendment to the federal constitution "implicitly" demands that SSM be recognized. But does anyone think the 14th Amendment have been ratified if anyone explicitly understood it to create a right to SSM? No. Not now, not in 1868, nor at any time in between could such an "implicit" right been ratified.

    The right to SSM only exists in the minds of those who wish it were so.

  35. Dexter
    Posted January 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink


    Ignorant people used the same logic to justify women not deserving the right to vote, etc.

  36. kieran
    Posted January 30, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    And the right to take away the rights of others exists only in people like you, marty. 🙂

  37. JT1962
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    Hey Marty, do you think that the people would have given the right to marriage to interracial couples in the 60's? According to most people back then, the right to their marriage existed only in the minds of those who wished it were so. But here we are today, with interracial marriages. And here we are today, still with those who believe they have no right to that marriage. The more things change, they more things stay the same.

  38. Peabody Aristholde
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Yea Marty, just like giving women the right to vote was popular in 1868. Or mixed race marriages....

    Your Point?

  39. kieran
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I remember in 1954 when people were forced by a court to act and speak like black people should be treated the same as white people. No vote was held to decide this. We should really work on reversing this, I don't want the SCOTUS deciding stuff like basic civil rights. That should be held to a national vote.

  40. ConservativeNY
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    "Simple question for you Conservative: Do you have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex? If yes, where does that right come from? Certainly not from the Constitution."

    Marriage is not a right, it is a civic responsibility. Why do you think there are marriage licences and marriage certificates? Does a "right" require any of those?

    Too many people have the hedonistic attitude that marriage is a magical happiness spell. It's not. It is a civic institution that helps establish the ideal environment for the procreation and raising of children.
    And this is done by putting men and women together, not setting them apart.

  41. Posted February 6, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    No vote was held to decide this.

    The vote that was held to decide that occurred in 1868.

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