Public hearing on gay marriage

What follows is a live blog of the first 10 speakers at a public hearing about a proposed House Resolution that (eventually) would put a constitutional amendment before Iowa voters, an amendment which would bar same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships and civil unions.

At 6:30 p.m. Rep. Richard Anderson, a Republican from Clarinda, opened this public hearing with an advisory about the “decorum” of the House and what is and isn’t allowed. “It is not a very nice evening out there, weatherwise,” Anderson said, adding that’s why the public hearing will end at 8:30 p.m. “because the streets are getting slick.”

At 6:36 p.m. the long process of listening to each legislator in the room announce their presence began. (There are state senators in the house, BTW, as well as state representatives.)  It took ’til 6:47 p.m. for that to end.   A supporter of the constitutional amendment will speak, then an opponent, and this will be pro/con process will continue through the end of the hearing.

Former State Rep. Danny Carroll of Grinnell from The FAMiLY Leader was first to speak, saying the pubic hearing was “two years overdue.”  Carroll called the supreme court’s ruling “offensive” and he said he was representing “thousands of families across the state” who want a chance to vote on the constitutional amendment.  “I support marriage as created by God…and I will be leading the campaign to support the institution of marriage that we have embraced in this state for so many years,” he said, saying a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment was a “reasonable” move.

Dawn BarbaRouske was next.  She was one of the plaintiffs in the Varnum case.  She told legislators she and her partner had been together for more than 20 years and had been married for a year and a half.  “Our marriage is woven together with love, hard-work, honesty…and respect,” she said, her voice breaking as she spoke. “We should not judge each other.  Not one marriage has been negatively impacted by our love for the past 20 years,” she said. 

The like-minded people in the crowd applauded.

Karen Mogenhan spoke next.  “I support traditional marriage. I know it to be best for…our state and our society,” she said, warning of unintended or ignored consequences of same-sex marriage such as changes in the education system from sex ed to prom to college dorms; denial of tax benefits to religious organizations that don’t believe in same-sex marriage.   “How do we fend off bigamy, polygamy?” she asked. “How long ’til another group comes forth?”

Like-minded people in the crowd applauded.

Zach Wahls, a 19-year-old U-of-I student and Eagle Scout who was raised by two women was next. “I guess the point that our family isn’t so different from any other Iowa family,” Wahls said.

More applause.

Mark Doland was next.  “Judges do not make law,” Doland said.  “…I’ve had to pull my kids out of public school.  It costs me $11,000.”  Doland said he had to pull his kids out of school because of an “activist teacher” who said it was normal to have same-sex relations.

More applause.

Suku Radia, CEO of Banker’s Trust, was next.  “I know well the tyranny of intolerance,” Radia said, of his native Uganda.  “…You can see why I have long treasured the tolerance of Iowans.”

“Please refrain from clapping,” Anderson said after Radia concluded.

Jen Green was next. “I’m actually not here to defend marriage.  Make no mistake, regardless of what happens…marriage has already been defined thousands of years ago by our creator,” she began.  The breakdown of marriage has occurred because people won’t “fight for it” and preserve the institution, she said.

Jane Erickson, a grad student at ISU, was next.  She was living in Massachusetts with her same-sex partner, but moved to Iowa after the Varnum decision to be closer to grandparents.   “My life is richer for every year that I share with Sarah,” she said.  “…The word marriage carries a different weight…a higher standard of obligation to one another.”

Marvin Smith was next, calling the Iowa Supreme Court’s Varnum decision a “vicious attack” on society. “They violated the design of the almighty from creation…demolishing the very core of our society – the family unit,” he said.

Former State Senator Jeff Angelo (formerly of Creston, now of Ames) called himself a “citizen activist” and said he had co-sponsored a similar amendment in the past when he was serving in the legislature. “I have changed my position on this issue,” he said.  “…The purpose of our constitution is to protect the rights of individuals.” Angelo said the debate in Iowa about gay marriage “centers around the devaluation of the lives of a select group of people” who are accused of a “nefarious” agenda.

“Iowans are discomforted by this debate, because we know it not to be true,” he said.  

Angelo got a little burst of applause.  “No more applause,” Anderson said.

No more live blogging.  I’m going to start writing a story for

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


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