Iowa Republicans propose same-sex marriage ban: ‘A union between one male and one female’

Two women embrace each other, both wearing wedding dresses

Nearly eight years after marriage equality was legalised across the United States, Republicans in Iowa have proposed an archaic ban on same-sex marriage on religious grounds. 

The joint resolution, introduced on Tuesday (28 February) by eight Republicans, proposed that marriage should be defined as between “one human biological male and one human biological female”. 

“In accordance with the laws of nature and nature’s God, the state of Iowa recognizes the definition of marriage to be the solemnized union between one human biological male and one human biological female,” the proposal read.

If adopted, the resolution would amend the state’s constitution, conflicting with the 2015 Supreme Court decision to legalise same-sex marriage across the United States.

It is unclear how Iowa could enforce the bill if it became law.

It comes after the passing of the Respect for Marriage Act in November 2022. The bill was designed to protect same-sex marriages in case the Supreme Court strikes down the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision after Roe v Wade fell in June, jeopardising Americans’ right to an abortion.

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However, the act doesn’t stop any state from refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couple, according to the ACLU. Rather, it bans states from refusing to recognise same-sex marriages conducted in other states.

NBC News reported that state representative Brad Sherman, a bill co-sponsor, said the resolution would “take several years to accomplish”. 

“Should the people of Iowa vote for such an amendment, laws would have to be adjusted to make laws fair for all,” he added.

Several lawmakers in the state have criticised the proposal, however, with state representative Sami Scheetz tweeting that the bill represents “disgusting hatred”. 

“We will not be going back to the days when committed, loving same-sex couples don’t have the same right to marriage equality as everyone else,” he said.

“This kind of disgusting hatred and backwards thinking has no place in Iowa, and I’ll fight it every single day.”

Separately, a bill was proposed on Tuesday (28 February), which would mean that on religious grounds, residents would be protected if they wished to not recognise same-sex marriages at all. 

“No resident of Iowa shall be compelled, coerced, or forced to recognize any same-sex unions or ceremonies as marriage, notwithstanding any laws to the contrary that may exist in other states, and no legal action, criminal or civil, shall be taken against citizens in Iowa for refusal or failure to recognize or participate in same-sex unions or ceremonies,” the proposal reads.

The bill follows other anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that the state of Iowa has put forward in recent months, including a cruel ban on trans women and girls from participating in sport at school and university, as well as banning the disciplining of students and staff at Iowa schools who deadname trans classmates.

In July 2022, library staff in an Iowan town walked out after city residents complained about the facility’s display of LGBTQ+ books, with some users checking books out and never returning them in order to remove them from the shelves.

Children’s librarian Renee Greenlee said after the walkout: “The books are extremely important… Everyone should be able to choose for themselves what they read, and see themselves reflected in books.”

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