November 21, 2014

Iowa activists react to Wisconsin ruling on gay marriage issue

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has upheld that state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions. In a unanimous opinion released today, the court ruled an amendment to Wisconsin’s constitution was properly put to voters in a statewide referendum in 2006.

Iowans who are opposed to gay marriage say this case highlights the need for a constitutional amendment here in Iowa. “The Supreme Court’s opinion in Wisconsin is just one more reminder that in every state where the people have had an opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage, 31 of 31 times they have always voted in favor of preserving the definition of marriage which is one man/one woman,” says Bryan English, spokesman for the Iowa Family Policy Center.  “It’s another reminder that the people of Iowa have not yet been heard concerning the definition of marriage.” 

English says this is an issue that will not soon go away. “There is high interest in it and it will continue to be an issue that candidates for office are going to need to address not just in 2010, but very likely for the next several political cycles until we have a resolution here,” English says. 

Justin Uebelhor — a spokesman for the pro-gay marriage group “One Iowa” — agrees that the legislators who’re elected in the next several years will decide the issue. A resolution calling for a statewide vote on gay marriage must pass two separate Iowa General Assemblies in order to be placed on the ballot so voters can decide.

“I think the ruling in Wisconsin really underscores the importance of protecting a pro-equality legislature here in Iowa,” Uebelhor says.  “I think Iowans want their leaders to focus on improving our economy, bringing jobs to the state and working to improve our education.” 

According to Uebelhor, One Iowa has 100 different groups in its coalition, all pushing legislators not to put the issue before voters. “We continue to support candidates across the state who oppose a constitutional amendment to the Iowa constitution that would ban same-sex marriage here in the state,” Uebelhor says.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on a lawsuit that challenged the 2006 amendment to Wisconsin’s constitution, charging it violated a rule that limits referendum questions to a single subject since the amendment bans both gay marriage and civil unions.  The Wisconsin court ruled that outlawing both gay marriage and civil unions preserves the legal status of marriage in Wisconsin as between a man and a woman.

Same-sex couples may now marry in Iowa, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont.