A constitutional amendment that would mandate that marriage between one man and one woman is the only legal union that is valid or recognized in the state was introduced Wednesday in the Iowa House, marking the beginning of what promises to be one of the most contentious debates of the 2011 legislative session.
Fifty-six of the GOP’s 60-member majority signed on as co-sponsors to House Joint Resolution 6. Four Republican lawmakers — Peter Cownie, Steven Lukan, Scott Raecker and David Tjepkes — and all 40 Democrats refused to sign on as co-sponsors. The legislation goes beyond just banning same-sex marriage. It would also ban civil unions, domestic partnerships and any other legal recognition of same-sex couples.
The amendment would invalidate the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. A constitutional ban on same-sex marriage has been repeatedly introduce over the years, coming closest to being passed in 2004, when it cleared the Iowa House but fell one vote shy of passage in the Senate, with four Republicans joining all 21 Democrats to kill the measure that year. The next year, the Republican controlled Iowa House passed a gay marriage ban, but an evenly divided Senate never took up the bill.