And What Is Their Third Option?

It is no secret that right-wing activists are up in arms over the recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality and are trying to come up with ways to overturn the decision. 

They unveiled a couple of their ideas at a rally today outside the capitol:

A Republican candidate for governor vowed today to stop gay marriage if he’s elected, but several Statehouse officials say his proposed method would be illegal.

“If I have the opportunity to serve as your next governor,” Bob Vander Plaats told a crowd of about 350 people at a rally, “and if no leadership has been taken to that point, on my first day of office I will issue an executive order that puts a stay on same-sex marriages until the people of Iowa vote, and when we vote we can affirm and amend the Constitution.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that would actually work since obviously governors can’t just set aside rulings they don’t like:

Several lawmakers and Phil Roeder, a spokesman for Gov. Chet Culver, said the governor doesn’t have that power.

“Governors in Iowa do not have the ability to prevent or overturn a decision of the Supreme Court through an executive order,” Roeder said. “It’s disappointing that some people, especially politicians, would try to mislead the public into thinking that governors do have such power.”

But never fear, they do have other alternatives:

Co-founder of Everyday America, Bill Salier, told the crowd that state lawmakers need to thank the Supreme Court justices for their opinion but say it’s merely opinion and the law is still on the books.

Salier said: “(Lawmakers) can face down the court and say, ‘We passed DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. You claim that it is stricken. And yet unless some magic eraser came down from the sky, it’s still in code.’”

Of course, that won’t work either:

Drake University professor Mark Kende, an expert in constitutional law, said in a telephone interview: “Technically, they’re right, it’s still on the books, but it’s illegal.”

The wording in the Iowa Code may linger, but it doesn’t invalidate the court ruling, he said.

“The ruling trumps state law,” Kende said. “Court rulings are meant to be obeyed even if you don’t like them.”

So that pretty much leaves them with only a few options: to try and amend the state constitution, which is a difficult and time-consuming process, or to try and replace everyone in the state legislature that doesn’t share their views, which seems unlikely, though some are threatening to do just that:

Salier said Iowans should try to oust certain lawmakers by backing in the next primary election candidates who support traditional marriage.

“If you’re sitting out here today and your legislator is squishy on these things, and they’re not upholding the law and the Republic, then you need to primary ‘em,” said Salier, who was Tom Tancredo’s Iowa presidential campaign chairman. “That goes for the Republican party, that goes for the Democrat party. If you’re sitting out here registered in one or the other, cross over. … And take another swing in the general.”

Though none of their early proposals for overturning the ruling will actually work and the others seem improbable, that doesn’t mean right-wing activists are going to accept the ruling, as Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center made clear when he declared to the crowd that “we have only begun to fight.”