Conservative urged gay marriage opponents to plan for future elections
JOHNSTON, Iowa — U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley said conservatives opposed to the Iowa Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling should focus on long-term planning.
Grassley acknowledged he’s taking a lower profile on the issue than some Republicans, but he said that’s because a bipartisan approach is needed.
Speaking Thursday night, April 16, during a taping of the public television program "Iowa Press," Grassley argued gay marriage opponents should look toward the next election and future legislative sessions.
"It ought to be thoroughly planned," said Grassley. "I don’t think it should be planned for just this year or next year, because this Legislature is about over. I think you ought to plan what you are going to do for the next election, for the next Legislature."
Democratic leaders in the Legislature have opposed beginning the process of amending the Iowa Constitution to overrule the state Supreme Court’s April 3 decision. Two consecutive General Assemblies must approve a proposed constitutional amendment before it could be put to voters.
Grassley said social conservatives should begin building the political base needed to deal with the court’s decision.
"If there’s going to be any action taken contrary to the Supreme Court’s decision, then it should be to seek as broad a consensus as possible," he said.
The four-term Republican senator said gay marriage opponents should realize the issue doesn’t break along partisan lines.
"I think we need to consult with groups that tend to be bipartisan if there’s going to be any sort of action," he said.
Grassley said he would serve a consulting role for state politicians seeking to deal with the decision, but he wouldn’t impose his views on them.
Grassley predicted the gay marriage issue would gain momentum from the Iowa Supreme Court decision.
"My take on the decision is it is probably more sweeping than anybody anticipated," he said. "It has probably set a pattern for other Supreme Courts."
The 75-year-old Grassley is seeking re-election, and Democrats have yet to find a high-profile opponent. Former state legislator Bob Krause, of Fairfield, has said he intends to oppose Grassley.
Despite his somewhat muted response to the Supreme Court ruling, Grassley said he’s confident of his standing with the conservative base of the Republican Party.
"Nothing has changed in the years I’ve been in the United States Senate," said Grassley. "I’ve always been a spokesman for conservatism."
Grassley has been able to negotiate a split within the Republican Party, where moderates and social conservatives have fought for control of the party’s direction. He said he’s confident of unity heading into next year’s election.
"There is a united Republican Party that is united in outrage about what is going on in Washington," said Grassley.
Grassley said his votes against the bailout of General Motors, and opposition to a stimulus package backed by President Barack Obama cemented his standing with conservatives.