Tuesday, April 7, 2009

And back to visiting our neighbors in Iowa

Same-sex couples in Iowa can begin marrying at the end of April, thanks to a state supreme court ruling last week that the Iowa constitution's equal protection clause guarantees that right.

But opponents of marriage equality are fighting to amend the Iowa constitution so that the state only recognizes marriage contracts between opposite-sex couples. The process would take several years, with the earliest possible passage of such an amendment coming in 2012.

Not so soon, says Michael Gronstal, Iowa's senate majority leader. As in Wisconsin, a constitutional amendment must be approved by the state House and Senate in two consecutive terms, then approved by a majority of participating voters. Gronstal spoke on the senate floor yesterday, telling opponents of marriage equality that no marriage amendment would pass under his watch, and that future leaders are even less likely to consider an amendment. The younger generation, he said, just doesn't see what opponents of marriage equality are so upset about. You can watch the video of the discussion here.

By the way, we'll have an interview with Chuck Swaggerty, plaintiff in the case that led to the Iowa marriage ruling, on Queery tomorrow night. Swaggerty is originally from Manitowoc, Wis., and joined the case because of the difficulty he and his partner had in obtaining equal parental rights for their two children and his partner's ineligibility for health insurance under Swaggerty's employee plan. You can read more of the couple's story in this August 2008 article in the Sioux City Journal.

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