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Iowa GOP try for statewide vote to bring an end to same-sex marriage

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
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DES MOINES, Iowa — A Republican state senator began the lengthy process Tuesday of forcing a statewide vote on gay marriage, proposing a constitutional ban that would require approval twice in the Iowa Assembly before it heads to voters.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Iowa since a unanimous 2009 state Supreme Court ruling, which found that a law limiting marriage to between a man and woman violated the state constitution’s equal-protection clause.

But Sen. Dennis Guth (R-Klemme), said voters should get to decide whether gay marriage is permitted.

“I think the way that it was done did not allow the people any input. The people of Iowa need to have their voice heard,” said Guth, whose resolution has 17 co-sponsors.

The measure would need to be approved by the current Assembly and then one elected in 2014 before it could go to voters.

The effort has little chance of advancing since Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal , of Council Bluffs, has repeatedly blocked any debate of such an amendment since the court ruling.

Donna Red Wing, executive director of One Iowa, the state’s largest gay advocacy group, said she doubted the legislation would go anywhere.

“I’ve talked to a number of Republicans who really want to get past this. We’re going to celebrate four years of equality here in Iowa next month. The sky hasn’t fallen. It seems like a waste of the Senate’s time,” Red Wing said.

The court’s ruling made Iowa the nation’s third state to legalize same-sex unions. Nine states and the District of Columbia, now have legalized same-sex marriage.

Between 2009 and 2011, there were 4,600 same-sex marriages in Iowa, according to the state’s public health department.

A 2012 poll by the Des Moines Register found that a majority of Iowans oppose passage of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The poll found that 38 percent favor a legislative initiative to pass a constitutional amendment, while 56 percent are against.

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