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Iowa group plans push for marriage amendment

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DES MOINES - Traditional marriage advocates who demand a vote to amend Iowa's Constitution plan to leave their calling cards early and often during the 2010 legislative session.

Bryan English of Iowa Family Policy Council ACTION said pro-marriage supporters plan to be at the state Capitol en masse Jan. 12 when Gov. Chet Culver delivers his Condition of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly with Iowa Supreme Court justices present.

The occasion, he said, will mark the first time that all three branches of state government are together in one building since a unanimous Supreme Court ruled April 3 that a state law defining marriage as between one man and one woman was unconstitutional - clearing the way for same-sex marriages in Iowa.

English said his group has been raising money and mobilizing average Iowans to get all 150 state legislators on the record where they stand on passing a resolution that would allow the people to vote on a constitutional amendment on the marriage issue. The effort intensifies when lawmakers convene their 2010 session next month.

"It's a good opportunity for Iowans to show their support for traditional marriage and their solidarity in working together to encourage those legislators to let us vote," English said.

"It's just average Iowans making a very clear statement - this issue has not gone away," he added. "Our passion about it is stronger than it maybe even was last April. Folks have had a chance to think about the implications of what's going on here and they're becoming more and more convinced here that the only remedy here is to let us vote."

Both House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, reiterated this month they do not plan to take up a resolution during the 2010 session that would propose a constitutional amendment regarding the marriage issue. They say such an effort would effectively seek to write discrimination into the Iowa Constitution.

To come before voters, a proposed constitutional amendment has to be approved in exactly the same form by two consecutive general assemblies. If nothing happens in 2010, the earliest the issue could come before voters would be in 2013 or 2014.

"To try and claim that it's somehow writing discrimination into anything is ridiculous. The thing that they're discriminating against is the people of Iowa and our right to exercise our constitutional right to vote. They are out in left field," English said. "The courts don't make law."

The Jan. 12 event is part of a "two days for marriage" that English said is designed to encourage average Iowans who support traditional one-man, one woman marriage to travel to Des Moines during the 2010 session to lobby their lawmakers to allow a vote on the marriage amendment.

"I would think that with that kind of a presence, legislators will know that every day there are going to be folks looking for them to talk about marriage and to ask them to provide them access to their constitutional right to vote on the definition of marriage," he said. "We expect them to either allow us that access or to get out of the way."

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