Its been one week since Election day and we have some cause for celebration. We have just elected more LGBT officials than ever before in American History. Openly gay David Cicilline, former mayor of Providence, RI, is headed to the House and Jim Gray was elected mayor of Lexington, Kentucky. Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis, and Barney Frank all won re-election bids and with the election of prominent equality supporters in Maryland and New York the prospects seem good for Marriage Equality legislation in both states.
But Tuesday also brought disheartening defeats for us, and none more devastating than in Iowa. Openly hostile Republicans took control of the State House and the Republican Governor-Elect favors repealing the states Marriage Equality legislation. And perhaps most infuriating was the successful campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who voted for Marriage Equality in a unanimous decision in 2009.
Outside groups waged this petty campaign in Iowa, spending upwards of half a million dollars to send a message to Judges around the country: rule in favor of freedom and you will be ousted. Thanks to the wave of support for Republicans nationally and carpet-bagging anti-gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage there is a real threat to basic freedoms for LGBT Iowans.
But not if Mike Gronstal, the Iowa Senate leader, has anything to say about it. Sen. Gronstal has taken a stand, and has stated publicly that he won’t allow discrimination to be written in the Iowa constitution. From the Des Moines Register:
“The easy political thing for me to do years ago would have been to say, ‘Oh, let’s let this thing go. It’s just too political and too messy,’ ” Gronstal said. “What’s ugly is giving up what you believe in, that everybody has the same rights. Giving up on that? That’s ugly.”
Now, due to the legislative system in Iowa, Sen. Gronstal is the lone protector of justice for Gays and Lesbians.
But Senate Democrats will maintain at least equal power — which will give Majority Leader Mike Gronstal authority to prevent a vote on a marriage amendment to the state constitution.