Marriage equality arguments: This is about rights, speakers say

Posted by Jason Clayworth on

"More than 200 people packed into a legislative meeting this afternoon passionately speaking on a proposal that could ultimately eliminate marriage equality in Iowa.

“'This is the direction of the people, by the people, for the people and we should not lose sight of that,' said Rep. Dwayne Alons, R-Hull who is opposed to marriage for same-sex couples and who led discussion on the issue.

"House Joint Resolution 6 is expected to pass through a House Committee process later today. It goes beyond banning marriage equality by also excluding what its authors say are domestic partnerships or civil unions.

"Opponents of the resolution gave multiple examples of families that faced legal discrimination prior to the unanimous 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that said a law limiting marriage to a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

"Some of the examples included same-sex couples who had been together for decades yet, because they were not legally married, lost their homes and businesses because they lacked the same inheritance rights and tax breaks as heterosexual married couples.

"Others mentioned the inability of some couples who were not allowed to marry from having hospital or nursing home visitation rights.

“'Please know this is more than a law … This changes lives,' said Kim Jones, an Urbandale mother whose son is gay. 'You’re giving everyone an equal chance to believe in a part of the American Dream that most of us take for granted. For parents like myself that have dreams for all of our children and for that little boy who grew up without this guarantee: Please search your souls before you vote.'

"A House Judiciary subcommittee approved the resolution in a two to one vote. Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames voted no. Alons and Rep. Chris Hagenow of Windsor Heights, both Republicans, voted to move the resolution forward.

"The full House Judiciary Committee will vote on the resolution during a meeting that begins at 4:30 p.m. today.  The bill could be debated by the full House as early as next week.

"The measure faces slimmer chances of survival in the Senate, where Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, has vowed to block the measure.

"Here are a few other comments or exchanges made during today’s legislative consideration of House Joint Resolution 6:

"Tom Chapman, director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, supports the resolution:
'We think that that it takes a man and a woman to have a marriage. Marriage is definitely about the emotional desires and needs of adults, it’s about the love people have for one another but we also believe on a very important element it’s about the possibility of bringing children into the world.'

"Matt Mardis-LeCroy, minister at Plymouth Congregational Church of Des Moines:
'I plead with you on behalf of the couples I’ve married. Do not reduce them to the status of second-class citizens….You know as I know that our state is stronger when everyone has the right to make this commitment to marry the person they love.'

"Danny Carroll, a former state representative spoke on behalf of the Family Leader, a group based in Pleasant Hill formerly known as the Iowa Family Policy Center.
'The people that we represent at the Family Leader and the many hundreds and thousands of Iowans who want a chance to vote on this do so with no malice in their hearts.  In fact, many of those people would be quick to offer an apology to the homosexual community for the way they have been treated over the decades. For the ridicule and at least verbal if not physical abuse that they have been subject to. We reject that, Mr. Chair. Let me repeat: we reject that just as much as we reject evangelical Christians being the brunt of name calling, being called bigots because they simply want the chance to vote on what the definition of marriage is and has been for the last 2,000 years.'

"Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell: Representative Alons and Hagenow, why do you want to deny loving, committed couples like Larry and David the right to visit one another in a nursing home or hospital?

"Hagenow: 'I certainly don’t now of any law in the state of Iowa that precludes someone from visiting in the hospital.'

"(Wessel-Kroeschell explained that many times two people who don’t have a legal commitment can be challenged by others who do have such legal relationship. A parent or sibling of the ill person, for example, can override the wishes of the unmarried spouse and prohibit the same-sex partner from hospital visitation.)"

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