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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Iowa

2011-FEB to now: Constitutional
amendment to ban SSM. House/Senate activity.

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2011-FEB-01: Marriage amendment passes in the Iowa House:

A public hearing was held on the Iowa Marriage Amendment (IMA). Over 50 Iowans testified; half were in favor; half opposed. Some excerpts from the hearing:

  • Karen Mogenhan from Montrose: "When gay marriage rights clash into religious rights, the courts lean towards the former. As [this] shows, this issue is bigger than two people who love each other and want to express that love, and who receive the benefits of legally-sanctioned marriage. It will filter into all aspects of our lives, school, business, medicine, religious-based groups' activities and church. At what point do I say, 'Enough, it is my rights that are under siege?' In a battle of religious rights with gay marriage rights, it is the rights of a free society that will ultimately pay the price."

  • Jen Green: "Several of you may have to choose between party loyalty and your personal beliefs; please vote to pass [the bill], and take the first step to allowing Iowans our right to vote on a marriage amendment. We will thank you for it."

  • Rep. Rich Anderson (R), is a lawyer and chairperson of the House Judiciary Committee. He said: "The reason we try to protect marriage because we want to protect something called responsible procreation.We want to drive procreation into a stable relationship and procreation only happens between a male and a female. See, a male and a female can do something that a homosexual couple cannot: They can create children accidentally. That's the issue. It's not about love. It's not about romance. It’s about driving state policy toward responsible procreation." 1

  • Zach Wahls, age 19, an engineering student at the University of Iowa, Eagle Scout, and small business owner testified about his own family that is headed by two women. The version of his testimony that was placed on You Tube by IowaHouseDemocrats received 1,065,225 reads in the first three days. It received 15,382 likes, 271 dislikes, and 6,976 comments:


  • Dean Genth of Mason City, who apparently is gay, said: "It would be less harmful to me if you would just jump me in a dark alley and beat me up. It would be less hurtful to me if you would just sprayed faggot on my garage door. Nothing that you could do to me physically could be more hurtful than the action you are proposing to take with this resolution." 3 [Presumably he meant that injuries from gay bashing heal, and graffiti can be removed, but crushed hopes for equal rights and the opportunity to raise a family hurt forever, just as they did before the Civil War when African American slaves were not allowed to marry, and prior to 1967 when inter-racial couples were not allowed to marry in some states..

  • Bernard Hayes of Cedar Rapids said: "With legal standing, any dissenting speech, sermon or opinion could potentially be litigated as libelous, slanderous and hate speech. The state has a similar, if not equal, obligation to protect the free speech rights of those who dissent against this lifestyle just as those who have broken from tradition have the freedom to do so." [He is apparently unaware of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees the right to free speech, including hate speech that condemn sexual behavior of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals (LGBT).]

Three Democrats and every Republican in the house voted in favor of the marriage amendment. The vote was 62 to 37 in favor. If adopted, it would be the first attempt in history to write discrimination into the state constitution so that loving, committed same-sex couples and loving, committed opposite-sex in common-law marriages would be reduced to the status of roommates, Meanwhile, it would redefine their children as illegitimate with minimal protection. 3

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2011-FEB-01: Marriage amendment arrives in the Iowa Senate:

In the Senate, the House bill was referred to the Committee on State Government, whose chairperson is Senator Jeff Danielson (D). 2 No action was taken because the Democrats control the Senate with a very slim majority 25 to 24 seats.

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2011-NOV-08: Democrat win in Senate preserves SSM:

Liz Mathis (D) received 56% of the votes for an empty Senate seat over Cindy Golding's (R) 44% share. This means that the Democrats hold a 26-24 seat majority. A Republican win would have resuted in a 25-25 seat tie and thrown the control of the Senate into question.

An Iowa court ruled in favor of SSM in the state during 2009. Back in 2011-FEB, the Iowa House, which is under Republican control, approved a constitutional amendment to exclude loving, committed same-sex couples from both marriage and civil unions. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D) has said that the measure will be shelved as long he remains in control of the chamber. 6

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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. Chuck Hurley, "Now What?" Email from The Family Leader, 2011-FEB-04.
  2. HiWorld798, "Zach Wahls - Marriage rights 'Iowa state vote'," You Tube, at:
  3. SuchIsLifeVideos, "Zach Wahls & Family On The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell," You Tube, at:
  4. Brian Brown, "A letter from the president," Email from National Organization for Marriage," 2011-FEB-03.
  5. James Lynch, "Marriage, who should define it, debated at Iowa House hearing," Eastern Iowa Government, 2011-JAN-31, at:
  6. Chris Johnson, "Democratic win preserves marriage rights in Iowa," Washington Blade, 2011-NOV-08, 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-NOV-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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