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Gay marriage bill passes House

BY ALLISON KELLY | FEBRUARY 02, 2011 7:10 AM

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The Iowa House passed legislation Tuesday that could lead to an eventual vote on gay marriage in the state. Democratic senators have vowed to block the measure, and University of Iowa students spoke out against it.

The bill passed the House on a vote of 63-37.

“I voted no on it, and I spoke on the floor,” said Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville. “It’s just big government, and before you know it, they’ll want to put cameras in people’s bedrooms.”

More than a decade ago, the Legislature had passed the Defense of Marriage Act of 1998, which limited marriage to one man and one woman.

But gay marriage has been legal in Iowa since April 2009, when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in Varnum v. Brien that marriage could not be limited. Three of the justices on the unanimous decision were ousted in November’s retention election.

This contradiction between the legislative and judicial branches in Iowa is why Rep. Dave Deyoe, R-Nevada, said the proposal is necessary. He said the bill isn’t meant to dictate people’s actions, but instead to resolve the inconsistencies.

“Really, the key to this vote is that it is to give Iowans the chance to be able to vote on this issue because we have a conflict between the judicial branch and what the legislative branch passed 13 years ago,” he said.

UI law student Brad Biren, an executive member of Outlaws, the law school’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender group, said he didn’t think the legislation would become law, but he believes legislators overstepped their territory by debating the bill.

“They ask, ‘Why marriage?’ ” he said. “Well, the view from the back of the bus is not the best view in the world. It tells you that you’re a second-class citizen.”

Though his own marriage wouldn’t be in jeopardy, Biren said, banning same-sex unions prevents the government from meeting the goals of promoting stable, functional relationships.

The law would ban any civil unions, domestic partnerships, and any other government recognition of gay and lesbian couples, in addition to marriages.

The bill will move to the Senate next, where Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, has vowed to block the proposal from reaching the floor.

The proposal failed a procedural vote last week.

But Rep. Greg Foristall, R-Macedonia, who sponsored the bill, said Senate Republicans would likely be able to achieve the 25 votes necessary to bring the vote to the floor.

Still, he questioned whether the measure would be passed by Iowa residents.

“It’s gonna be interesting,” he said. “If it would pass out through the Senate, I think that there is a good chance that Iowans would vote down the Constitutional change.”


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