by Rex Wockner
Iowa legislators opposed to same-sex marriage were unable to force resolutions out of House and Senate committees Feb. 9 in support of a statewide vote to amend the constitution to re-ban gay nuptials.
Nineteen senators signed a petition to get the Senate measure out of committee, but 26 signatures were needed.
In the House of Representatives, a vote to push the measure out of committee failed 45 to 54.
A recent poll found that 62 percent of Iowans don’t think the legislature should tackle the issue.
Same-sex marriage became legal in Iowa in April 2009 courtesy of the state Supreme Court.
A spokesman for the state’s main LGBT rights group, One Iowa, expressed relief at the developments but warned against the gay side’s letting down its guard.
“Our opponents are ruthless and will stop at nothing to take away the freedom to marry,” said Communications Director Justin Uebelhor. “There were four legislative attempts to undermine the Supreme Court’s ruling last year and we expect more political attacks this year. We don’t want to take anything for granted and are communicating this message to our supporters and media on the ground. In addition to the constitutional amendment, a religious exemption bill has already been proposed and we have to be vigilant of any attempts to chip away at the ruling.”
Also on Feb. 9, a committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives overwhelmingly killed two bills aimed at re-banning same-sex marriage.
One bill called for a public vote on gay marriage. The other would have repealed the law that legalized it.
In addition to being allowed in Iowa and New Hampshire, same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. It also is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain and Sweden, and in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province. It will become legal in Washington, D.C., in March and in Portugal later this year.