A three-member panel in the Iowa House has approved a resolution that would let Iowans vote on a constitutional amendment that would make same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships illegal in Iowa. 

Critics and supporters of the legislation were given a chance to speak to the three lawmakers and the more than 200 other people who’d crowded into the room. Tom Chapman of the Iowa Catholic Conference went first.

“Our position is based on our answer to the question: what is marriage?” Chapman said. “And we think that it takes a man and a woman to have a marriage.”

Reverend Mardis-LeCroy of Plymouth Congregational Church in Des Moines has married same-sex couples and he warned legislators against wading into a “theological dispute.”

“Rabbis, imams, pastors, and priests have debated the meaning of marriage for thousands of years,” Mardis-LeCroy said.  “With all due respect, this one is above your pay grade.”

Suku Radia, C.E.O. of Bankers Trust, urged legislators to put away their “party platforms” and table the proposal.

“As we look down the road and we talk about business attraction, business retention and the workforce what we quickly conclude is that as you take a look at the shortage in workforce that we are going to have as a state, any sort of legislation like this would absolutely send the wrong message,” Radia told legislators.  “I think it’s the message of intolerance.” 

Dennis Guth, a farmer from Klemme, is part of the “Let Us Vote” group that formed a few months after the 2009 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.

“This is not an issue that should be decided here in this building by 100 representatives or 50 senators or seven people on the Supreme Court,” Guth said.  “This is an issue that need to be decided upon by the thousands of people across this state.”

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider the proposed constitutional amendment at its 4:30 p.m. meeting today.