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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage in Iowa (SSM)

More opposition to the Supreme Court SSM ruling

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This is a continuation of another list of negative responses to the court ruling on same-sex marriage (SSM)

See also an essay on support for the court ruling and notes about the future

bulletThe Iowa Family Policy Center ACTION (IFPC Action) issued a message on 2009-APR-05 stating:

"For many Iowans, and people of faith all across the country, Friday?s Iowa Supreme Court decision was an catastrophic tragedy. The Iowa Family Policy Center staff immediately took action upon learning of the Court?s opinion creating so-called gay marriage." 1

"IFPC Action Board Chairman Danny Carroll, Director of Public Relations Bryan English, and I spent most of the day responding to interview requests from across the country. God used the occasion of this horrendous event to allow us an opportunity to speak the truth about homosexuality to the entire country." 2

The Associated Press quoted Bryan English, whom they described as a "dejected" spokesman for the IFPC, saying: "I would say the mood is one of mourning right now in a lot of ways." 3

One News Now reported on an interview with Bryan English. He seems to have made the curious statement that he wished the Justices of the Iowa Supreme Court had violated their oath of office by keeping their SSM decision secret. We don't know how to interpret that. He said:

"As I pondered the court's ruling, it occurred to me that Psalm 14:1 says 'The fool hath said in his heart that there is no God' -- and then I remembered that Abraham Lincoln said it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt," he recalls. "It just seems to me that with those two truths in mind, this is probably a decision the Supreme Court should have kept to itself." 4

He also believes that those opposed to SSM face prosecution for their beliefs in criminal courts. It is unclear whether he believes that this is an immediate threat or a hypothetical future threat. We suspect that it is the latter, because we have seen no effort to date to lay criminal charges against people because of their beliefs about SSM. There do not appear to be laws on the books by which such a charge could be made. English said:

"It's only a matter of time now before those of us who are still willing to speak the truth and say that homosexuality is wrong are the ones that they are [sic] calling criminals. We have to rise up now. We have to protect marriage. We must pass the Iowa marriage amendment. People need to get active."

He concluded by predicting that the chances of lawmakers passing a constitutional amendment to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry are grim. This may be an accurate assessment, because few legislators relish adding a discriminatory clause to a constitution. In addition, the Legislature's has a long history of respect for civil rights on matters as diverse as women's access to professions, women's right to own property, school desegregation, and inter-racial marriage.

bullet The four Roman Catholic bishops in Iowa, Dubuque Archbishop Jerome Hanus and Bishops R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Martin Amos of Davenport and Richard Pates called for a constitutional amendment to terminate marriage equality in Iowa and restore the definition of marriage to a permanent union "of one man and one woman." They appear to wish to redefine marriage in accordance with Catholic belief that marriage is permanent and cannot be ended by divorce. It is unclear what percentage of Iowans would agree with this definition, but the number is probably small.

In a joint statement, they wrote:

"This decision rejects the wisdom of thousands of years of human history. It implements a novel understanding of marriage, which will grievously harm families and children. ... This unwarranted social engineering attacks the good that marriage offers to society, especially the good of children, and weakens the critical relationship between marriage and parenting. ... We will resolutely continue to protect and promote marriage as a union between a man and a woman because of its unique and historical contribution to the common good."

This statement appears to reflect the church's prohibition of artificial insemination and other forms of fertility treatments that allow lesbian and bisexual women in loving, committed same-sex relationships to conceive, bear, and raise children. 5

bulletSome mostly anonymous individuals posted comments to a Sioux City Journal article:

"MLG" wrote: "I sat and cried when I heard the news about legalizing gay marriages! It makes me sick to my stomach that Iowa would do this, go against the majority and OK this! Iowa a good place to Live you have to be kidding, you just destroyed that!!!! It makes me sick!!!!God help us!!!! "

"The Truth" wrote: "So a group of homosexuals in robes has more power than Iowa Voters. The Democrats are destroying America."

"commenter" wrote: " You mean the Sioux City council's vote to ban gay marriage didn't sway the Iowa Supreme Court to ban it??? Well that was a waste of about a month or two worth of meetings huh? "

Janice Springer wrote: "For something so morally and ethically incorrect to be approved, is just a plain disgrace. Programs like this have been the forum for politicians launching and aiding careers, which has taken away from the more serious issues we face. The government has spent billions on this item, which has been a waste. It is not correct. It violates all family virtues. It creates an avenue for for more sexual perversion to take place. "

"Picture this, 2 men, married, are allowed to adopt a young boy and at a certain age, they try to persuade him, to become one of 'them'. They show him how a man can love a man better than love a woman. Sick people, just plain sick."

"I'm embarrassed to live here. My house is now up for sale. I'm leaving this state. And yes, I'm happy about it." 5

Senator Bartz calls for petition:

Senator Merlin Bartz (R, Grafton) violated his oath of office which calls on all legislators to enforce the Iowa Constitution. The constitution includes a equal protection clause that requires access to marriage to all loving committed couples, whether opposite-sex or same-sex.

He spoke in the Iowa Senate on 2009-APR-22, calling for Iowa citizens to circulate a petition demanding that their country recorders ignore the state Supreme Court's ruling. The petition calls on the recorders to follow the marriage law that was declared unconstitutional by that court, and deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This would require the recorders to violate their oath of office. His biography on the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus website contains a link to the petition that he is promoting.

The Iowa Family Policy Center ACTION is handling the administrative tasks associated with the petition. They are asking that the petitions be given to the county recorders on the morning of APR-27, the date that the recorders are supposed to start issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples.

A PDF file attached to the IFPC news release contains the petition. It says in part:

"WHEREAS, the Iowa Legislature passed and the Governor signed in 1998 the Defense of Marriage Act, stating that marriage in Iowa is only between one man and one woman, and

WHEREAS, on April 3rd, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an opinion that is in conflict with that law and the Constitution, thereby rejecting their oath of office and the legitimate moral sentiments of the people expressed in Iowa Code, and

WHEREAS, the current Legislature and Governor have failed to exercise their Constitutional duty to address the inconsistencies that exist between Iowa law and the Supreme Court opinion, and

WHEREAS, we believe the Court Opinion to be misguided, and the inaction of the Governor and the Legislature to be unacceptable, and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court has set April 27th, 2009 as the date that County Recorders should start issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, and

WHEREAS, we are in support of the Iowa law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and urge our County Recorder to take all necessary steps to resist issuing licenses to same sex couples;

NOW THEREFORE, we hereby appeal directly to you, our county recorder, to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples on April 27th, 2009, and every day after, until such conflict between the Supreme Court?s opinion and the law is addressed by a VOTE OF THE PEOPLE OF IOWA." 6

The petition appears to be based on three assumptions:
bulletThat a law passed by the legislature, and declared unconstitutional by the Iowa Supreme Court, is somehow still valid.

bulletThat the law overrides the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution which it violates.

bulletThat a simple majority vote by the people of Iowa in a referendum can overrule clauses in the state constitution and deprive a portion of the population of the right to marry the person that they love and have committed to support for the rest of their life.

That reasoning seems very strange. If the third assumption is true, then every minority group in Iowa is in danger of losing any of their fundamental human rights.

Ed Fallon, a former Democratic state legislator, and a leader of the group "I'm for Iowa" filed an ethics complaint against Senator Bartz. Fallon said:

"I think it is very inappropriate for a state senator to use his office to basically ask Iowans to ignore the constitution, and to encourage county recorders to violate the law. I mean the Supreme Court decision is very has said that gay and lesbian couples in Iowa will be able to marry. And for an elected official, a state senator, to go out and tell people to pressure the county recorder not to issue license, that to me seems like a violation of one's oath of office." 7

Senator Bartz issued a statement:

"I have read the formal complaint filed by Ed Fallon and find it without merit. According to procedures set forth by Senate Rules I will submit a formal response to the Senate Ethics Committee within the next ten days."

"I fully expect the Committee to dismiss this complaint, thus continuing the tradition of free speech on the floor of the Iowa Senate. It is important that the voices of Iowans are not silenced and a vote is held to determine what constitutes marriage." 8

References used:

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

  1. In the press releases of the Family Research Council and Iowa Family Policy Center ACTION, the authors enclosed the word marriage in "quotation marks." This is common among religious and social conservatives who refuse to recognize SSM as a valid form of marriage. We deleted the quotation marks because we felt they are disrespectful to loving, committed, married same-sex couples and their families. The quotation marks may be a useful indicator for future reference. If the quotes are dropped, the battle over SSM may well have been decided.
  2. "Reflecting on Friday's Court Opinion," Iowa Family Policy Center ACTION press release, 2009-APR-05.
  3. Amy Lorentzen, "Iowa Court Ruling Legalizes Gay Marriage," Associated Press, 2009-APR-05, at:
  4. Charlie Butts, "Conservative Iowans fight to preserve traditional marriage," One News Now, 2009-APR-06, at:
  5. Rod Boshart, "Court allows gay marriage in Iowa," Sioux City Journal, 2009-APR-04, at:
  6. "Help Resolve the Constitutional Crisis!, Iowa Family Policy Center ACTION news release, 2009-APR-23.
  7. Darwin Danielson, "Former state legislator files ethics charge over gay marriage issue," Radio Iowa, 2009-APR-23, at:
  8. Darwin Danielson, "Senator responds to ethics complaint in gay marriage issue," Radio Iowa, 2009-APR-24, 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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