Same-sex marriage showdown underway in Iowa

“Your family doesn’t derive its sense of worth from being told by the state, ‘Congratulations, you’re married,'” Zach Wahls, 19, told Iowa lawmakers yesterday. Wahls was raised by two women, and testified in opposition to a bill that would put a ban on same-sex marriage on the ballot in Iowa.

Although the House of Representatives has advanced the bill, the Senate Majority Leader, Mike Gronstal, is blocking it from coming to the floor of the Iowa Senate for a vote.

Here’s the House resolution:

A Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution 1 of the State of Iowa specifying marriage between one man and one woman as the only legal union that is valid or recognized in the state.


H.J.R. 6 Section 1. The following amendment to the Constitution of 1 the State of Iowa is proposed: 2 Article I of the Constitution of the State of Iowa is amended by adding the following new section:

Marriage. SEC. 26. Marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state. Sec. 2.

REFERRAL AND PUBLICATION. The foregoing amendment to the Constitution of the State of Iowa is referred to the general assembly to be chosen at the next general election for members of the general assembly, and the secretary of state is directed to cause the same to be published for three consecutive months previous to the date of that election as provided by law.

EXPLANATION. This joint resolution proposes an amendment to the 16 Constitution of the State of Iowa specifying that marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state. The joint resolution, if adopted, would be referred to the next general assembly for adoption a second time before being submitted to the electorate for ratification.

The Des Moines Register profiles several politicians who are taking a , perhaps, unpopular stand:

As a Catholic, Sen. Tom Rielly, D-Oskaloosa, believes marriage is “one-man, one-woman, one time,” he said.

“But I’m not going to use that as a test to deny someone their civil rights. I’ve read the decision a couple dozen times, and I just for the life of me don’t understand how anybody can say, ‘This couple over here, you can enter into a civil contract to get health insurance, tax status, pension benefits, survivor benefits, end-of-life care. But you over here, because you’re gay, you can’t do that.’

“How is that not discriminatory?”

Iowa’s Supreme Court unanimously struck down Iowa’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2009 (See opinion). In November, voters turned three of the seven justices out of office.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Homosexuals in Iowa should have the same right to regret their decisions as heterosexuals.


  • Alison

    I have a different perspective on this. I probably have made this point here before, but it is worth repeating whenever this ‘one man and one woman’ thing is brought up. How are ‘man’ and ‘woman’ defined? How do the authors of the bill intend to handle situations in which there is ambiguity? The prevalence of intersex people is reported to be between 0.2% and 1.7%, depending on the criteria used. You probably know someone this would affect, you just don’t know who they are.

    And then there are transgender people. Who do I get to marry? Does it change if I transition? Do I have to have the surgery, or is living full time in the desired gender enough? Should I be forced to divorce? Couples who stay together through a transition (I know, wow – that’s dedication, but it happens) can play a strange game on a cross-country road trip. As you go from state to state, figure out if you’re still considered married and why. It depends on whether same sex marriage is allowed and whether the state will let you determine what your gender actually is or whether they get to decide for you. (But they apparently get to decide who you can love, so having the government tell you what gender you are really isn’t such a stretch is it?)

    So lets see…in this state they say I can be considered female, but there’s no gay marriage, so I guess we’re out of luck. But wait, only five miles up the road I’m not allowed to be considered female, so we’re married again, yeah! Fun game, huh!

  • Rich

    Its simply amazing that so much time, effort, money, words, and ink have been wasted simply to disallow one small group of citizens the opportunity to be as unhappy as the majority.

  • Joanna

    Three cheers for Zach Wahls! Your moms did a great job with you, and I’m sure they are proud of you today. You speak for my family as well.

  • truth be told

    Whatever happened to liberty and justice for ALL in Iowa? What about equal treatment before the law? Is the Iowa House special that it can just dump on Constitutional guarantees?