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Poll mixed on same-sex marriage

BY ADAM SULLIVAN | APRIL 06, 2009 7:42 AM

Opponents of gay marriage are nursing wounds from last week’s Iowa Supreme Court ruling. But they’re not admitting defeat.

While the legal battle regarding who has the right to marry is over in Iowa, conservatives insist the political bout is far from lost, noting the majority of Iowans who do not support same-sex marriages.

“Legally, now the issue has been settled,” Des Moines-area lawyer Mike Manno said. “The recourse for the side that lost is more political than anything else.”

On April 3, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled a law restricting marriage to a union between one man and one woman is unconstitutional. The ruling will take effect within weeks, allowing same-sex couples to be married in Iowa.

Manno spoke out against the ruling, contending that the decision should be up to Iowa voters, not judges.

He said it’s likely Iowans will be frustrated they were not consulted on the issue.

“I would not be surprised for voters to take their frustrations out on some of the politicians who did not allow a floor discussion,” said Manno, who teaches law and government at Upper Iowa University. So would Iowa voters strike down gay marriage if given the chance? That’s not quite clear, according to a poll conducted by UI faculty members.

Only around 36 percent of Iowans oppose both gay marriage and civil unions, according to a UI Hawkeye Poll released on April 3. More than a quarter of the 978 respondents support gay marriage, and around 28 percent are cozy with the idea of civil unions.

The same study showed that among Iowans under 30, nearly 60 percent support gay marriage.

“Iowans may not be quite ready to support gay marriage completely, but they are ready to recognize same-sex relationships in some legal form,” said UI political-science Associate Professor David Redlawsk, who conducted the study.

Many prominent politicians from the state and nation issued responses to last week’s ruling.
Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, released a short statement, noting that Iowans on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate have strong opinions.

“The next responsible step is to thoroughly review this decision, which I am doing with my legal counsel and the attorney general, before reacting to what it means for Iowa,” Culver wrote.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, called on Iowans to amend the state Constitution and define marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

“Along with a constitutional amendment, the Legislature must also enact marriage-license residency requirements so that Iowa does not become the gay marriage mecca because of the Supreme Court’s latest experiment in social engineering,” he wrote.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — who earned a boost in last year’s Republican caucuses from a win in Iowa — sent an e-mail to supporters calling the Iowa Supreme Court ruling “disappointing.”

“All Iowans should have a say in this matter, not a handful of legislative judges. This issue is too important to not be made by the people of Iowa,” wrote Huckabee, who some view as a potential front-runner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Redlawsk said reactions to the ruling have been predictable.

“There will certainly be some attempts by some who oppose the ruling to use it politically,” he said.


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