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Iowa Republicans Propose Amendment That Would Ban Same-Sex Marriages

The proposal is unlikely to pass, as a majority of the state’s residents support preserving marriage equality.

The Iowa State Capitol building is pictured in Des Moines, Iowa.

Republican lawmakers in Iowa have submitted a proposal for a constitutional amendment in the state that would bar the recognition of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The amendment, which was submitted this week, would only affect marriage rights in the state of Iowa and would not supersede federal marriage equality protections that have been in place since the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling in 2015. But should that ruling ever be overturned, the amendment, if passed, would grant the state the ability to deny Iowa’s same-sex couples the right to marry or have marriage benefits conferred to them.

Iowa became the third state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage — and the first in the Midwest — after its state Supreme Court overturned a ban on same-sex marriage in 2009. If passed, the proposed constitutional amendment would negate that ruling.

The proposal reads as follows:

In accordance with the laws of nature and nature’s God, the state of Iowa recognizes the definition of marriage to be the solemnized union between one human biological male and one human biological female.

For the amendment to become official, it must pass both houses of the state legislature, be signed by the governor, and pass the legislature again in the next session before being sent to voters.

A separate anti-LGBTQ bill submitted in Iowa on Tuesday seeks to undermine the Respect for Marriage Act, federal legislation that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden last year. (The act stipulates that, even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Obergefell, states must recognize same-sex marriages licenses from jurisdictions where marriage equality protections are still in place.) That bill runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s “supremacy clause,” and would likely be found unconstitutional.

Iowa voters would likely oppose a measure to ban same-sex marriage in the state. Even if Republican lawmakers are successful in forwarding the amendment to a vote, polling from the Public Religion Research Institute in 2017 shows that a majority of residents in the state (59 percent) support preserving marriage equality.

Still, the proposal for the state constitutional amendment and the bill seeking to delegitimize the Respect for Marriage Act indicate the lengths to which Republicans in Iowa will go to deny the rights of LGBTQ residents.

Democratic lawmakers in the state have vowed to oppose the legislation.

“No, @IowaGOP, we will not be going back to the days when committed, loving same-sex couples don’t have the same right to marriage equality as everyone else,” said state Rep. Sami Scheetz (D). “This kind of disgusting hatred and backwards thinking has no place in Iowa.”

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