Saturday, January 29, 2011

Video: Iowa Senate Majority Leader Gronstal digs in his heels to defend gay Iowans; 'My wife says if I'm a dictator she's going to get a heck of a lot more shoes.'

Imelda Marcos, who is
NOT Mike Gronstal's wife
Interviewed on Iowa Public Television Friday evening, Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal absolutely refused to back away from his vow to block any senate move to put same-sex marriage to a state-wide vote.
     On Monday from 6:30 to 8:45 pm,  the Iowa house will hold hearings on HJR 6, which would ban any legal recognition of gay couples in Iowa. Depending on what PC and software you use, you may be able to listen to the hearings live. (Here at Aksarbent, Windows/Internet Explorer works, but Windows/Firefox doesn't.)

Excerpt from transcript published by Iowa Public Television:
Henderson: One reason there are three vacancies on the Iowa Supreme Court is that voters, many of whom were reacting to the court's 2009 ruling on same-sex marriage, voted three members off the court. This past week there was a scuffle over rules in the Iowa Senate but at the heart of that was the gay marriage issue. You've been accused of being a dictator and running the Senate like monarchy. Are you guilty as charged?

Gronstal and his clever wife, Connie (oneiowa)
Gronstal: My wife says if I'm a dictator she's going to get a heck of a lot more shoes. Listen, I was elected, I've been elected I can't even count the number of times from my district. Is this my sixth or seventh -- this is my seventh term in the Iowa Senate and I had one term in the House, that is not exactly a dictator that gets elected by the people in this district. So, I've campaigned repeatedly in my district, I get elected and then I get elected by my fellow members to be the majority leader.

Glover: But gay marriage opponents are going to find some way to bring this up every week and every time you have to fight it, block it, you spend a little political capital. How much political capital are you willing to spend? And how much political capital are you willing to ask your members to spend?

Gronstal: I don't give up what I believe in.

Glover: But what if it means you don't get elected or you go into a minority?

Gronstal: I accept that. I accept every vote I take up in that chamber can result in my defeat in the next election. It can result in a defeat by my fellow members to be their leader. I accept that reality. I think you've got to stand for something in politics and putting discrimination -- if I can vote to take away your rights by majority vote of the people of Iowa then I can vote to take away anybody's rights and maybe today one group feels like, well, we're the majority. Well, tomorrow they very well may be the minority. So, you know, what I tell people is, yeah, I worry about politics, I campaign hard to win my seat in Council Bluffs, I worry about that but I also shave every morning and I have to be able to look myself in the eye.

Glover: So, you're willing to accept the possibility of going to the minority?

Gronstal: Of course, I'm willing to accept the possibility of me losing and everybody else, these are 50 senate districts, everybody else has got to make their calculation as to how they win their races, how they campaign, everybody else has got to make that measure. This particular election, across the country, this was a nationalized election and it was more about Washington, D.C. than it was about Iowa. So, we're going to go through these campaigns and a year from now we're going to start the campaigns, I'm not interested in campaigning right now. I'm interested in governing and governing well and we're going to work with the new Governor and with the republican House and try to govern well.

Henderson: How intense is the pressure on Senate democrats? This past week you accused opponents of what you're trying to do in the Senate of lying which seemed an extraordinary step to take, to accuse your political opponents of lying.

Gronstal: No, I did not make any comment about any senator.

Henderson: I said your political opponents.

Gronstal: I said there will be people that will characterize a vote on the rules as a vote on something else and it was not a vote on something else, it was a vote on the rules, it was a vote on the traditions, the written rules and unwritten rules of the Senate that goes back for decades. That is what the vote was yesterday.

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