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Bill might send gay marriage to voters

BY ALLISON KELLY and ALISON SULLIVAN | JANUARY 20, 2011 7:10 AM

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House Republicans proposed a bill that could clear a path to an eventual ban of gay marriage in Iowa, but local students and legislators said they doubt the legislation will pass.

The legislation could eventually become a Constitutional amendment, if it is passed numerous times in the Legislature and approved by the voters.

The bill is the latest step in an ongoing political struggle that heated up after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated the state Constitution.

Voters ousted three Iowa Supreme Court justices from the bench because of the unanimous decision in the November 2010 election, and in the wake of the election, some opponents of gay marriage have sought to impeach the other justices or change the way Supreme Court justices are selected.

But one student doesn’t think there enough votes to carry the measure.

“I’d be shocked if anything came of it,” said Justin Randall, a third-year law student and member of Outlaws, the UI law school’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender group.

Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Corallville, said he thought the move would pass in the House, but not the Senate.

But supporters lauded the move.

Chuck Hurley, a representative from the Iowa Family Policy Center, said it was a great victory.

“We have worked hard to secure the right for all Iowans to have a chance to vote on this very important policy matter for over six years now, and we are very pleased,” he said. “We hope that the Senate will allow ‘we the people’ to vote on this fundamental issue, like 36 other states have had the right to vote on.”

But the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa disagreed.

“I think what is significant for Iowans to recognize is that 56 members from the House have not just endorsed a marriage amendment but have endorsed an amendment that has outwardly discriminated against gay Iowans,” said ACLU President Ben Stone.

Stone described it as “reprehensible” and vowed to fight against it.

Margaret Murphy, the president of the University Democrats, said the organization would likely start working against the measure.

“Obviously, we disagree with it because we do support same-sex marriage,” she said.

She said the group may organize a phone bank and start contacting constituents around Iowa and tell students to contact their legislators.

The bill was introduced on a day of contentious debate over the state’s budget that kept lawmakers at the Capitol well into the evening.

No vote on the legislation was taken Wednesday, but House members will likely vote in the next few weeks.


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