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Iowa legislator wants to exclude gays from family campsite policy

Iowa legislator wants to exclude gays from family campsite policy

An Iowa state lawmaker said Thursday that he wants to be “vigilant” and keep state agencies from writing rules that extend new benefits to gay couples.

His latest target: camping rules in the state park system.

State Sen. Merlin Bartz, R-Grafton, told Radio Iowa that he wants Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials to explain a proposed policy change that would include gay couples in its definition of “families,” making them eligible for family camping at state parks.

The rates or fees for camp sites are the same, whether you’re a family or a non-family, but the state allows families to put up more than one tent on a camp site.

“They’re changing their language even though the state legislature has not had a debate on this particular issue,” Bartz says.

The DNR is changing “husband and wife” in its campsite rules to “spouse,” which would allow same-sex families, legally recognized in the state, to erect additional tents for for their children or friends.

The Iowa Supreme Court overturned the state’s Defense of Marriage Act last year, legalizing same-sex marriage.

The anti-gay legislator previously attempted to insert language into a bill that would have allowed county recorders to refuse to issue a marriage license as a “matter of conscience” without fear of prosecution. The language was ruled out of order.

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