Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Iowa gov cool to attempting gay-marriage reversal

The Associated Press: Iowa gov cool to attempting gay-marriage reversal

By MIKE GLOVER – 30 minutes ago

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Chet Culver on Tuesday ended days of silence on the Iowa Supreme Court's decision allowing same-sex marriage, saying he disagrees with the ruling but is "reluctant to support" amending the state constitution to reverse it.

Culver said in a lengthy statement that he hadn't changed his mind that marriage is between a man and a woman: "This is a tenet of my personal faith."

However, Culver said the issue before the court in its unanimous ruling Friday involved only civil marriage, and that churches and other religious institutions do not have to perform them.

"The court also concluded that the denial of this right constitutes discrimination," Culver said. "Therefore, after careful consideration and a thorough reading of the court's decision, I am reluctant to support amending the Iowa Constitution to add a provision that our Supreme Court has said is unlawful and discriminatory."

Culver made his statement hours after a Republican candidate for governor, Bob Vander Plaats, criticized the governor for not being more clear about where he stood on the gay marriage ruling.

"There's an old saying that silence is golden, but it doesn't apply when people need to know where their elected officials stand," said Vander Plaats, a Sioux City businessman.

The court ruling means same-sex couples can file for licenses in Iowa beginning April 27, and get married as soon as April 30.

Key Democratic legislative leaders have ruled out efforts to start the process of amending the constitution, and Culver's position likely ends that debate for all practical purposes. Social conservatives have been clamoring for the amendment, but even in their best-case scenario Iowa voters could not weigh in on the issue until 2012.

Iowa doesn't have residency requirements for marriage licenses, so same-sex couples from elsewhere could come to Iowa to be married. Vander Plaats said at the least, lawmakers should put residency requirements in place to head off such visits.

"It is wrong to allow people whose states do not allow same-sex marriages to rush into Iowa, get a quickie marriage and rush home to undermine the laws and values of another state," he said.

Culver urged both sides in the emotional debate "to exhibit respect and good will" and said he would focus his attention elsewhere.

"We are in the midst of a serious economic recession," said Culver, pointing to rising unemployment and last summer's record flooding. "That is where, I believe, my focus and energies should lie."

Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, R-Chariton, criticized Culver, saying he has broken an earlier promise to oppose gay marriage.

"Gov. Culver has chosen to stand with seven elite justices and deny the 3 million people of Iowa the right to vote on this significant issue," McKinley said in a statement. "This marriage flip-flop is just the latest example of Gov. Culver not providing the leadership that every Iowan deserves."

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