The Chicago based group that orchestrated the move toward gay marriage in Iowa says it will have observers in 25% of the county recorders’ offices Monday when same-sex couples can first seek licenses to marry — but the group is dismissing the idea there is any opposition to the marriages.
Camilla Taylor is the Lambda Legal attorney who led the Iowa lawsuit which resulted in the Iowa Supreme Court ruling that Iowa’s law saying marriage is between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.
Taylor was asked during a conference call with reporters Thursday if there was confusion among state officials over how they should handle gay marriage issues. Taylor says she hasn’t heard any particular difficulties in working out what the decision means. She says Iowa isn’t the first state to rule that marriage licenses must be issued to same-sex couples, so there is a lot of help available if Iowa officials have questions.
Lambda officials say Iowa has "embraced" the gay marriage ruling, and Taylor dismissed recent attempts in the legislature to bring up a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Taylor says the state legislature "has made it very clear that the state legislature is not interested in putting discrimination into the constitution and that there are a lot of other issues that Iowans care about. She says there are budget issues and the state is recovering from natural disasters, "so I don’t think there is any will to amend the state constitution."
Democratic leaders have blocked several attempts to bring up the vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Taylor was asked if her confidence would change if Republicans won back control or the legislature or if Iowa voters decided to call for a constitutional convention in 2010.
Taylor says she is "completely confident" and says "I don’t believe a constitutional convention has ever been voted on favorably, and if you look at what has happened in other states, people don’t want the expense and the nuisance of a constitutional convention if the sole purpose being put out there is to write discrimination into the constitution if they’ve had the opportunity to do it directly and they have not."
Taylor says it would take a couple years at least before a constitutional amendment could come before the voters and she believes that would lesson the efforts to pass an amendment.
Taylor says once we see Iowa gay couples marry and "families thrilled that they are finally receiving the protection and respect from their government that they deserved, that it will become evident that these families are vital parts of our community, they are valued, people will not want to take marriage away from their friends and neighbors, so I am really not concerned about that."
Taylor does not believe any county recorders will refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples on Monday. "We have every expectation that the county recorders will do their duty and we are really not concerned, I know that there are a lot of reporters who’ve been trying to dig up someone that will state that he or she will not follow the law, but I really believe that everything will go very smoothly."
Taylor was reminded reporters are asking about the issue because there is a petition movement pushed by lawmakers urging county recorders to not issue the licenses. She says she acknowledges that there has been a call from some Republican lawmakers for recorders to not issue licenses and an out of state legal organization has sent an e-mail to county recorders asking them to not follow the law.
"And yet I don’t believe that there will be any traction from that, I think Iowa public officials are very clear on what their duties are, the Iowa Attorney General and the Iowa Department of Public Health have been very clear, the Iowa Supreme Court decision couldn’t be clearer, and I am confident everything will go smoothly.
Taylor says representatives of One Iowa, the state group that has partnered with Lambda Legal, will be on hand at several courthouses to give advice to gay couples on marriage issues.