Hundreds of people crowded into the Iowa House tonight for a public hearing about gay marriage. The Iowa House is scheduled to debate a resolution Tuesday which would forbid same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships and civil unions in Iowa if voters approve a proposed constitutional amendment.

Two former legislators — both Republicans — were among the first to speak about that proposal at last night’s public hearing. Former Representative Danny Carroll of Grinnell is a critic of the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling which legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.

“I support marriage as created by God, consistent with natural law and God’s law and if this is on the ballot, I will be leading the campaign to support that institution of marriage that we have embraced in this state for so many years,” Carroll said. “But my purpose here tonight is to respectfully ask that we have a chance to vote on our constitution.”

Former Senator Jeff Angelo used to live in Creston when he was a legislator; he lives in Ames now. Angelo once co-sponsored a similiar constitutional amendment, but has changed his mind. 

“Iowans worship with, work with, live with and love people who are gay. This debate centers around the devaluation of the lives of a select group of people,” Angelo said. “At its worst, we are being asked to believe that our gay friends and neighbors are involved in a nefarious agenda, the outcome of which is the unraveling of society itself.”

Karen Mogenhan of Montrose told legislators traditional marriage, between a man and a woman, is best for our society and our state.

“As marriage terms are blurred it opens the door to other consequences,” she said. “How will we fend off bigamy, polygamy, group marriage?…These may sound ridiculous, but how long ’til another group comes forward and demands their rights be acknowledged?”

Nineteen-year-old Zach Wahls, a University of Iowa student, told legislators he has a sister — and two moms. 

“Our family really isn’t so different from any other Iowa family. You know, when I’m home we go to church together; we eat dinner; we go on vacations,” Wahls said. “…We’re Iowans. We don’t expect anyone to solve our problems for us. We’ll fight our own battles. We just hope for equal and fair treatment from our government.”

Marvin Smith, pastor of the Harvest Baptist Church in Fort Dodge, told lawmakers same-sex marriages violate God’s design.

“You take away the traditional family unit and you have struck at the very heart of our existence as a society,” Smith said.

Dawn BarbouRoske of Iowa City has been married to her partner, Jen, for a year and a half. 

“Our marriage is woven together with love, honesty, hard-word, laughter, trust and respect,” BarbouRoske said. “These are core traditional values not dependent on gender.”

BarbouRoske was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to the controversial Iowa Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in Iowa.