Gay and lesbian Iowans gathered at the statehouse Thursday to call for stronger protection agaisnt harassment in schools. Brad Clark, coordinator of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and transgender Youth Task Force, says schools should forbid harassment based on race, gender or sexual orientation. Clark says bullying and harassment shouldn’t be tolerated and he says gay and lesbian students are bullied and harassed disproportionately in schools, and the state should have a policy to address it. Kate Varnum, president of “Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays,” says they also came to tell lawmakers not to adopt a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Iowa. Varnum says she and her partner of three years shouldn’t be denied the legal protection married couples enjoy. She says if the partner were dying, for example, she’d be denied the right to handle funeral arrangements and cites other couples that have been together 20 or 25 years, saying they should have those rights. But republican senator Neal Schuerer of Amana says gays and lesbians can make such arrangements through wills and power-of-attorney documents. Schuerer says the federal government should amend the U.S. constitution to prohibit gay marriage. Schuerer says as Bush discussed in his state-of-the-union address, if the court doesn’t maintain “self-control” in its decisions and interpret the law instead of making law, then remedies of the constitution will have to be used to control the government. Schuerer says he thinks the majority of Iowans would oppose gay marriage.
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