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Same-sex marriage in Iowa (SSM)

The Iowa Marriage Amendment.
The future?

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Iowa Marriage Amendment:

The only way to reverse the Iowa Supreme Court ruling would be to change the state constitution. By writing sexual discrimination into the Constitution, the court decision would be overruled. The equal protection clause in the state's constitution would still be in place. It would still require people who are "similarly situated" to be treated equally. However, on the single topic of marriage, that clause would no longer apply. Whether a person would be allowed to marry the person that they love and to whom they are committed would be dependent upon the gender of that person.

There are two ways to change the Constitution:

bullet The legislature would have to approve a special revision to the Constitution banning same-sex marriage. It would have to approve the revision for the second time during the next legislative session. Only in 2011 or later could the general population vote on whether to write discrimination into the Iowa Constitution. 1
bullet Voters could be asked whether they want a constitutional convention held in which delegates could amend the constitution. 2

This would not necessarily result in a permanent banning of SSM in Iowa. Numerous polls have shown that opposition to SSM is fading nationally, support for SSM is steadily improving, and the number of undecided voters is decreasing. If current trends continue, it would just be a matter of time before a new amendment to the Constitution would repeal the same-sex marriage ban and restore marriage equality to Iowa.

On 2009-APR-09, Republican members in the Iowa House invoked Rule 60 to try to force House Resolution 8, a constitutional amendment to ban SSM, out of committee and bring it before the House for a debate and vote.

The amendment would ban same-sex couples from marrying. This would once more return loving, committed same-sex couples to the status of roommates, and their children to illegitimate status.

Former Iowa House speaker Danny Carroll, who favors the marriage amendment, was interviewed by CBN News. He is apparently in favor of the full integration of Christianity and state law. He said:

"Our hearts go out to those with same-sex attraction. I don't think any of us would want to trade places. But at the same time I think it's unconscionable that the court would ignore the word of God and proceed with such an opinion. It breaks my heart to see our judiciary and with the support of the executive and legislative branches to ignore the word of God and the people and proceed on a path they call progressive and tolerant."

House Minority Leader Christopher Rants (R-Sioux City) was successful in forcing a vote under Rule 60. However, he the procedure itself failed with a vote of 46 in favor and 49 opposed. 3

According to the Iowa Family Policy Center, all 42 of the Republican representatives who were present, but only two of the 56 Democrats, voted in favor of the procedure. 6

Republicans are now expected to use a similar Senate rule to bring a companion bill out of committee into the full senate. However, even if the attempt fails, Republicans will still have a stick to beat Democrats with at the next election.

Statement issued by Everyday America:

Everyday America issued the following media advisory titled "Joint Statement on Constitutional 'Marriage' Crisis:"

"The following organizations are calling for the Iowa Legislature to resolve the inherent conflict between Iowa Code 595.2 which still states 'only marriage between a male and a female is valid' and the court ordered issuance of same-sex ?marriage? licenses. These groups believe this is an issue that can only be resolved through the normal legislative process. Further, they assert that if a legislative solution is not found, Gov. Culver must issue an executive order preventing any same-sex marriage licenses from being issued until the conflict is resolved."

"Together, these organizations have issued a call for all liberty-minded Iowans to assemble at the Iowa Capitol on Monday, April 13 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. This rally to affirm the Constitution, and in support of marriage, will be another opportunity for Iowans to continue pressuring their elected officials to stand up to a runaway court."

"Organizations in partnership to restore the republic:
bullet Everyday America
bullet Iowa Family Policy Center ACTION
bullet Eagle Forum
bullet Concerned Women for America, and
bullet Iowa Christian Alliance."

Their advisory contains many items worth noting:

bullet They enclose the word 'marriage' in quotation marks. This is a common practice among religious and social conservatives. They do this to denigrate the concept of marriage between two persons of the same sex.
bullet Their first paragraph appears to contain a misunderstanding of constitutional law. A conflict existed in the past, but it was between the Iowa Constitution and Iowa Code 595.2. The Iowa Constitution contains an equal protection clause that requires people who are "similarly situated" to be treated equally. 595.2 conflicts with this clause and is thus unconstitutional. It has been declared so by the Iowa Supreme Court. In essence, 595.2 is no longer in force. Thus, there cannot be a conflict between the Iowa Supreme Court's order and 595.2.
bullet If the Legislature or Governor inhibited the issuance of marriage license to either same-sex or opposite sex loving committed couples, they would violate their oaths of office. When there is a conflict between their beliefs and the Constitution, these oaths require them to obey the latter. To refuse to follow the constitution would be a very serious breach of trust with the people of Iowa, and would severely damage respect for the rule of law.
bullet The Iowa Supreme Court is not a "runaway court." Most of its justices are conservatives appointed by a Republican governor. Their respect for the Iowa Constitutional and its equal access clause forced them to concluded that full marriage equality must be made available to loving, committed same-sex couples. The state constitution itself requires this. If they had ruled otherwise, then they would indeed be a runaway court; they would have substituted their own beliefs for the requirements of the constitution.

County supervisors ask for end to SSM:

On 2009-APR-27, the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution asking legislators to take action against SSM.

On 2009-MAY-06, the Adair County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution asking the state Legislature to either amend the Constitution to ban SSM or allow the public to vote on the matter. 8

The future?

The Iowa Supreme Court ruling is not considered final until about 2009-APR-27. Theoretically, there might be a request for a rehearing submitted to the court before that time. However this is unlikely. According to the Associated Press, state lawyers do not plan to contest the ruling.

It appears that the court decision cannot be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, since it is purely a state matter.

Associated Press reports that conservative lawmakers may try to enact residency requirements so that visitors to Iowa would not be able to marry there. U.S. Representative Steve King (R-IA), who was previously a state senator in Iowa, recommended that the Legislature do this in order to prevent Iowa from becoming "...the gay marriage Mecca." 5 This would of course deflect many potential same-sex tourists away from Iowa towards Connecticut and Massachusetts to be married. This would deprive the state of a great deal of revenue. However, many conservatives appear to feel that the economic damage to their state would be justified in order to make life a little more inconvenient for loving, committed out-of-state same-sex couples. The latter would be forced to travel farther -- e.g. to Connecticut or Massachusetts -- to be married. Governor Chet Culver has refused to take a stand on this alternative.

Iowa currently has no residency requirements for couples who wish to obtain a marriage license. 4 The economy of the state can be expected to get a significant boost in the future from loving committed same-sex couple visiting the state in order to marry.

References used:

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

  1. Rod Boshart, "Court allows gay marriage in Iowa," Sioux City Journal, 2009-APR-04, at:
  2. "Culver says he's open to marriage law changes," Cedar Rapids News, 2009-APR-08, at:
  3. "Iowa lawmakers block marriage vote," CBN News, 2009-APR-09, at:
  4. "Iowa Supreme Court Ruling On Marriage Upholds Religious Liberty, Says Americans United," AU Press Release, 2009-APR-03.
  5. Amy Lorentzen, "Iowa Court Ruling Legalizes Gay Marriage," Associated Press, 2009-APR-05, at:
  6. "Thank You!," Iowa Family Policy Center mailing, 2009-APR-09.
  7. "Call to Action," Email from Iowa Family Policy Center ACTION, 2009-APR-11.
  8. Michael Cooley, "Adair County supervisors demand statewide vote on gay marriage," KSIB Radio, 2009-MAY-06, at:

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

Copyright 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-APR-03
Latest update: 2009-MAY-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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