Iowa race could decide future of gay 'marriage'

DES MOINES, Iowa (BP) -- A special election in Iowa Tuesday will determine the balance of power in the Iowa state Senate -- and along with it, perhaps the fate of a proposed constitutional marriage amendment.

Ever since the Iowa Supreme Court legalized gay "marriage" in 2009, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat, has blocked all efforts to place an amendment on the ballot defining marriage between a man and a woman.

Democrats currently hold a 26-24 advantage in the state Senate, but that could change if Republicans win a special election in Senate District 18 Tuesday, forcing a 25-25 tie. In that election, Republican Cindy Golding will face Democrat Liz Mathis in a race to replace Democrat Swati Dandekar, who resigned to take a position on the Iowa Utilities Board. A weekend poll of 878 likely voters by Public Policy Polling put the Democrat Mathis ahead, 52-46 percent.

Pro-family groups have backed Golding, hoping she can help advance a marriage amendment. The Republican-controlled House passed such an amendment earlier this year, 62-37.

The Iowa-based Family Leader sent out an email to constituents calling Golding a "conservative Christian who shares our views on life and marriage."

"With the election of Cindy Golding to State Senate, Iowans could see the passage of both the marriage amendment and pro-life legislation," the email said. "This election is very crucial!"

Amendment supporters believe an amendment would pass if it was on the ballot, and an October poll supported that notion. The survey by Public Policy Polling showed likely voters supporting an amendment, 50-43 percent.

Elsewhere in the U.S. Tuesday, an election in Ledyard, N.Y., also will have an impact on the debate over gay "marriage." There, town clerk Rose Marie Belforti is being challenged by Ed Easter, who is conducting a write-in campaign. Belforti opposes gay "marriage" and has given all marriage license duties to a deputy, who does them by appointment. Gay couples say she is discriminating, but Belforti told The Wall Street Journal she is following her religious beliefs.

"I want to do what the Bible tells me to do," Belforti told the newspaper. "... There are too many references in the Bible that say this is not right."


Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).