Iowa Bill Tries to Bypass State Supreme Court’s Marriage Ruling

A new bill introduced in an Iowa House subcommittee aims to once more exclude loving and committed gay couples from the freedom to marry, which would cancel out the state’s unanimous 2009 Supreme Court decision to end marriage discrimination. The bill, sponsored by five conservative legislators, would prohibit county officials from giving marriage licenses to gay couples. The bill also contains a provision that would bar the state Supreme Court from ruling on the measure – essentially ignoring the checks and balances that are a core tenet of American democracy.

Derided by many as irresponsible, a spokesman for Iowa’s Attorney General called it “unquestionably unconstitutional. Carolyn Jenison, executive director of One Iowa, called it “reckless legislating at its worst.”

Drake University Law School professor Ian Bartrum focused on the rarity of such language in modern legislation. “Since the Civil War, we haven’t seen much of this at all,” he said. “There’s been a real reluctance on the part of assemblies as far as messing with the separation of powers.”

Thankfully, it looks like this bill won't get very far. The Republican-controlled House has already passed an anti-marriage amendment, and GOP leaders say they're not interested in letting this bill get out of committee. It's equally unlikely that the Democrat-controlled Senate would let it come up for a vote either, given the leadership's belief that the bill is unconstitutional. But the mere introduction of such a bill goes to show how far marriage opponents are willing to go to deny loving gay couples the freedom to marry.