Iowa GOP seeks ballot measure to ban all legal recognition of same-sex couples


DES MOINES, Iowa — Republican legislators have introduced resolutions seeking to put gay marriage on the ballot in hopes of reversing the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

In the House, 56 of the GOP’s 60-member majority have signed on as co-sponsors of a bill that would enable voters to amend the state constitution, and not only ban same-sex marriage, but also ban civil unions, domestic partnerships and any other legal recognition of same-sex couples.

The resolution says: “Marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state.”

The move is clear evidence of an anti-gay agenda, said Ben Stone, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.

In the Senate, Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) introduced a similar measure, Senate Joint Resolution 3.

Though House approval is expected, the future of the resolution is far from clear in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 26-24 advantage.

“As I’ve said before I’m not inclined to put discrimination into the constitution of the state of Iowa,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs), who has promised not to bring the resolution to the floor.

The measure has to be approved by both houses of the Iowa legislature in two consecutive legislative sessions before being put up for referendum.

With Gronstal pledging to block a Senate vote this year, a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage will likely not occur at least until 2014.

In June 2010, fourteen months after the Iowa Supreme Court ruling, a KCCI-TV poll found 53% of Iowans favored marriage rights for same-sex couples, while 41% were opposed.

An earlier Des Moines Register Iowa Poll said 62% of Iowans felt lawmakers had more important things to worry about than same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, Bob Vander Plaats, a leader of the effort that resulted in the voter recall of three Iowa supreme court justices last November, kicked off an 11-week statewide tour aimed at building support for his new advocacy group, Family Leader.

The group wants the remaining four Supreme Court justices who ruled for marriage equality in 2009 to resign, and is calling for their impeachment if they do not.

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