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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Iowa

2011-JAN: Constitutional amendment
to ban SSM: House/Senate activity

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2011-JAN-19: Marriage amendment introduced in Iowa House:

All but four of the 60 Republicans in the Iowa House signed on as co-sponsors of House Joint Resolution 6. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. 1 It defines "...marriage between one man and one woman as the only legal union that is valid or recognized in the state." 2

If this amendment is promoted like similar amendments in other states have been, then it will be advertised as a simple redefinition of marriage to include only one man and one woman. However, it appears to really be a stealth amendment that would terminate:

  • All existing same-sex marriages, and

  • The hope of all loving, committed same-sex couples to enter into a marriage in the future, and

  • The alternative hope of such couples that the state might permit civil unions or domestic partnerships in the future, and

  • All existing common-law marriages. These are mutual agreements between two persons to enter into a marriage relationship without obtaining a marriage license and without registering their marriage with the government. Iowa is one of only nine states in the U.S. that recognize such marriages. 3

"egc52556" responded to an article in the Iowa Independent newspaper saying:

"Open Letter to All Iowa Legislators:

I ask you to oppose House Joint Resolution 6 that seeks to deny gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry.

Why should you oppose this action?

1.The government should not be involved in the decision of two consenting adults to marry. It's an unnecessary expansion of big government into the private lives of Iowa's citizens.

2. Same-sex marriage is a civil right, the same as any marriage: different-sex, same-race,interracial, mixed-religion, same-region, etc. Civil Rights should not be decided by a majority vote. The essential need for civil rights laws are to project the minority from the rule of the majority. We are ruled by laws, not the might of the numerous and strong.

3.Because it is the Christian thing to do. This may sound odd since many objections to same-sex marriage are founded in Biblical beliefs. But that's only one interpretation of the Bible, which also teaches us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, to judge not lest we be judged,and to care for the beam in our own eye before we worry about the mote in our neighbors'.

4. Because it doesn't matter if it is the Christian thing to do. America was founded as a refuge from religious tyranny. We cannot bring to God those whose faith offends us by compelling them to behave as we wish they did. Are we to become like the Taliban who attempt to compel and frighten 'non-believers' into religious conformity?

Not that it should matter, but I'd like you to know that I am not homosexual and am not interested in same-sex marriage for myself. My wife and I have been happily and faithfully married for 25+ years and have raised our 3 sons here in Iowa. We have raised them to believe that America is a land of freedom and liberty. It’s excruciating to us that we are even considering restricting the freedoms of our fellow citizens simply because their love for each other is offensive to some.

Iowa is better than this.
America is better than this.
And we should be better than this."

For balance, we would normally post a response to the article from someone favoring the amendment. However, there were only 10 negative comments and zero positive ones.

Carolyn Jenison, executive director of One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBT-rights organization, wrote:

"Amending the Iowa Constitution to exclude gay couples will harm thousands of Iowa families. Marriage says 'we’re a family' like nothing else and is an important way we care for those we love. Writing discrimination into the Constitution will only divide us at a time when we need to work together to tackle common concerns. Iowans expect their elected officials to focus on issues that matter to everyone, like creating jobs, providing educational opportunities, and improving healthcare. Going backward on equal rights sends the wrong message." 2

Commenting on the House Joint Resolution 6, the Iowa Catholic Conference stated:

"... the Iowa Catholic Conference for many years has supported an amendment to the Iowa constitution to recognize marriage as a union of one man an done woman. Our position is based on our answer to the question, 'What is marriage?' We believe that it takes a man and a woman to have marriage. It is still a fact that it takes a man and a woman to bring children -- our next generation -- into this world. There should be reasonable expectation that the state should recognize the importance of both a mother and a father." 4

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2011-JAN-24: House Committee report:

The House Judiciary Committee recommended passage of House Joint Resolution 6 to terminate same-sex marriages via a constitutional amendment. Passage in the House is assured, because the Republican Party possess a majority there.

As of 2010-JAN-26:

  • Nine groups are known to oppose the amendment: the League of Women Voters of Iowa; Child and Family Policy Center; Iowa Federation of Labor; Family Planning Council of Iowa; National Association of Social Workers, Iowa chapter; AFSCME Iowa, Council 61; Planned Parenthood Affiliate League, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund; and One Iowa.

  • Two groups are known to support the amendment: The Iowa Family Leader and the Iowa Catholic Conference. 5

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2011-JAN-28: Marriage amendment stalled in the Iowa Senate:

The Iowa Independent reported on 2011-JAN-28:

"A motion by state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R-Indianola) to suspend the Senate's rules to allow a vote on a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was defeated early Thursday morning on a party-line vote."

"Sorenson asked all 50 senators to call up Senate Joint Resolution 8, a bill that would amend the Iowa Constitution to specify that marriage between one man and one woman is the only legal union valid or recognized in the state. Senate President Jack Kibbie (D-Emmetsburg) said 'no,' but agreed to allow a vote on whether to suspend the rule sand override his objection."

"[All] Twenty-six Democrats voted 'no' and [all] 24 Republicans voted 'yes.' The motion was defeated." 6

During an interview with the fundamentalist Christian group "Focus on the Family" he said that the debate over SSM is

"... my generation's defining moment. ... This is what our kids are going to be reading about. It's up to us to do what's right."

The newspaper article attracted 33 comments within two days. "LIBERaLiTY" posted a comment on Republicans:

"... defining a moment in history? Really? Look at some of the past 'heroes' who have worked to limit right of the minority. How exactly do we regard these people?"

"There's a MLK[Martin Luther King] avenue in just about every major city ... where is the Orval Faubus Lane? What, no idea who that is? He's the jackass governor who tried to prevent black students from attending a white school in Arknasas [sic]. ..."

"PolishBear" wrote:

"... you should ask yourself why law-abiding, taxpaying Gay Americans should be forced to subsidize all the legal benefits and responsibilities that Straight couples enjoy, when we are unable to take advantage of those same incentives to marry? And since when do voters get to decide that the rights that they enjoy should NOT apply to minorities?"

"PolishBear" appears to be unaware that, with the cooperation of the Legislature, a simple majority of 50% of the voters plus one can change the Iowa Constitution as they wish to deprive any defined group of equal rights.

The other comments are well worth reading. 6

According to Stop8, a LGBT-positive advocacy group in California:

"Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to never allow such an amendment to come up for debate. Democrats still have a 26-24 majority in the Senate." 7

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "House Joint Resolution 6," Iowa Legislature, at:
  2. Jason Hancock, "Marriage amendment introduced in Iowa House," Iowa Independent, 2011-JAN-19, at:
  3. "Common-Law Marriage," National Conference of State Legislatures, 2011, at:
  4. "Marriage: House Joint Resolution 6," Iowa Catholic Conference newsletter, 2011-JAN-23, at:
  5. "Lobbyist Declaration Results: HJR 6," at:
  6. "Senate Dems vote down push for gay marriage ban," Iowa Independent." 2011-JAN-28, at:
  7. "Marriage amendment introduced," Stop8, 2011-JAN-21, at:

Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > Iowa > here

Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2011-JAN-29
Latest update: 2010-FEB-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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