Iowa Republicans Want to Ban Gay Marriage

Legislators introduced a resolution to amend the constitution of the state that was one of the first to legalize same-sex marriage.

Iowa Republicans Want to Ban Gay Marriage
Photo:Barbara Davidson/Los Angeles Times (Getty Images)

A group of Iowa Republican legislators want to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage—only a few months after President Joe Biden gave protections to same-sex and interracial couples by signing the Respect for Marriage Act andnearly a decade after the Supreme Court upheld gay marriage.

In a joint resolution introducing the amendment to the Iowa House of Representatives on Tuesday, eight Republicans said they want to reconcile “the laws of nature and nature’s God” by defining marriage in Iowa as “between one human biological male and one human biological female.” (Congratulations to them on being both homophobic and transphobic in so few words.)

If that wasn’t enough, six of the eight Republicans joined with two other Republicans (that is, a second group of eight Republicans) to file different joint resolution on Tuesday that would allow Iowans to not “be compelled, coerced or forced to recognize any same-sex unions or ceremonies as marriage”—aka be bigots without getting sued. That resolution would also render some parts of the Respect for Marriage Act “null and void.”

State Rep. Brad Sherman (R, duh) sponsored both measures, but said they don’t mean queer people can’t believe in marriage. “If they want to call their relationship a marriage, they are free to do so; that is freedom,” Sherman told NBC News via email. “But, by the same token, people who do not define same-sex unions as marriage must not be forced to do so.”

It’s particularly egregious to see these resolutions in Iowa, which was one of the first handful of states to legalize same-sex marriages. Massachusetts had the first state-sanctioned gay weddings in 2004. Civil unions then proliferated across the country as a way to try to placate gay activists, but it didn’t work. After Connecticut legalized gay marriage in 2008, a state Supreme Court decision in 2009 allowed same-sex marriage in Iowa. (New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia soon followed). In June 2015, the majority opinion—authored by legal troll Anthony Kennedy—in Obergefell v. Hodges validated gay marriage in all 50 states.

But zooming out, seeing gay marriage on the radar of conservatives in 2023 is not surprising. It’s part of the playbook that’s included calling trans people and drag queens “groomers,” banning healthcare for trans kids, and overturning Roe v. Wade last year. In October 2020, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito invited a direct challenge to Obergefell (as well as cases that legalized birth control).

Even if these Republicans’ efforts don’t move forward in Iowa, that they felt emboldened enough to seek to amend the state constitution on such a hateful note should worry us all.

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