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BREAKING NEWS: In Iowa, GOP lawmakers trying to take away marriage equality

DES MOINES, Iowa – The new Republican-dominated House today revealed the first step in its anti-gay agenda, introducing a joint resolution that would allow Iowans to vote on a constitutional amendment that ban same-sex marriage.

The resolution is particularly mean-spirited; not only would it take away marriage equality in Iowa, but it would ban civil unions, domestic partnerships and any other legal recognition of same-sex couples.

House Joint Resolution 6 has the support of 56 of the GOP’s 60-member majority. Four Republicans joined all 40 Democrats and refused to sign on to the resolution.

The resolution seeks to invalidate the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in 2009 that legalized marriage equality for all Iowans.

Evan Wolfson, founder and executive director of Freedom to Marry, said the resolution would harm Iowa families by amending the state constitution to strip away the freedom to marry from same-sex couples and bar other protections for their families.

"For almost two years now, since April 2009, loving and committed gay couples have had the freedom to marry in Iowa, sharing in the rules, responsibilities, and respect that marriage brings to strengthen families,” he said.

“No one has been hurt, and numerous Iowa families have been helped in both tangible and intangible ways. The children of gay and lesbian couples have been able to proudly say that their parents are married, loving couples have been able to make a public promise to one another and have their friends, families and communities hold them accountable, and families have had the responsibilities and protections they need in a tough economic climate,” Wolfson said.

“Government should be on the side of all families, not putting barriers in their path as they seek to care for their loved ones. And the constitution should be respected as a shield of fairness for all, not used as a weapon to discriminate and harm.”

Carolyn Jenison, executive director of One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBT-rights organization, was bitterly disappointed.

“Amending the Iowa Constitution to exclude gay couples will harm thousands of Iowa families,” Jenison said. “Marriage says ‘we’re a family’ like nothing else and is an important way we care for those we love. Writing discrimination into the constitution will only divide us at a time when we need to work together to tackle common concerns. Iowans expect their elected officials to focus on issues that matter to everyone, like creating jobs, providing educational opportunities, and improving healthcare. Going backward on equal rights sends the wrong message.”

What is next?

The resolution must pass through the legislature in two consecutive General Assemblies, each of which is two years long. The soonest the issue could hit the ballot would be 2013.