Campaigners that hope to reverse Iowa’s status as a Midwestern outpost for marriage equality appear to be losing their opportunity to win a public vote because of increasing acceptance for same-sex marriage and lack of interest even among conservative Republican voters and lawmakers.
The Associated Press reports on the changes since 2009, when Iowa became the first state in its region to allow same-sex couples to marry after a unanimous state supreme court decision. Conservative activists including the National Organization for Marriage struck back the following year by recalling three of the judges who voted for the decision, but public attitudes have grown more supportive of marriage equality in the years afterward and about 4,500 same-sex couples have married in the state.
“Even Republicans seem to be more accepting, said Julie Summa marketing director for The Family Leader, a social conservative advocacy group,” according to the AP. “She and other evangelical leaders attribute the change to libertarian Republicans, like supporters Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who oppose restrictions on personal freedoms.”
Party leaders including Kathy Potts, a former Republican county chairwoman, have also endorsed marriage equality. Potts sits on the advisory board for Iowa Republicans for Freedom, and she published a stinging op-ed in a local newspaper last March charging that the fight against marriage equality could be traced to “the loud voices of a few in our party.”
Fewer than 10% of voters in conservative Republican districts now list overturning marriage equality as a priority, according to internal campaign polls cited by the AP. Should Republicans, who already control the governor’s office and the House, win control of the Senate, a marriage equality referendum could appear before voters no earlier than 2015 because of the legislative process. Meanwhile, polls already indicate that majorities of Iowans oppose overturning the marriage equality law.
Republicans need to capture two seats in order to win control of the senate. NOM plans to spend at least $500,000 to help with that effort, reports the AP.