A dramatic anti-gay marriage protest was staged yesterday at the Iowa Capitol as lawmakers attempted to force a vote on the issue, reports Radio Iowa.

Hundreds of protesters dressed in red – believed to represent the blood of Jesus Christ – swarmed into the gallery of the House to give Republican House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen support as he attempted to push through a bill that calls for placing a gay marriage ban in the state constitution.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously last Friday to legalize gay marriage in the Hawkeye State. The ruling takes effect April 24. The following Tuesday, Vermont lawmakers legalized gay marriage by narrowly overriding the governor's veto.

Members of the Iowa Family Policy Center first held a prayer rally on the steps of the Capitol.

Rev. Keith Ratliff, the head of the Iowa/Nebraska chapter of the NAACP, prayed: “Let them understand, oh God, that your way is the way that we must live, that separation of church and state did not mean that man should live unholy.”

Inside the chamber, Paulsen attempted to invoke two rules. He first called on a rule that immobilizes representatives to ensure all members remain seated for a difficult vote.

Then, the Republican from Hiawatha attempted to yank a stalled gay marriage ban bill out of committee and force the House to immediately consider it. Confusion ruled in the chamber before House Speaker Pat Murphy, a gay marriage supporter, ruled out of order Paulsen's efforts to bypass the committee.

“Let us vote,” chanted the red shirts in the gallery.

The dramatic protest ended where it had begun: no closer to forcing a vote on the issue. Amending the constitution in Iowa is a time consuming process that requires approval from two consecutive legislative sessions before it can be voted on by the people.

The Iowa General Assembly has begun to wind down this session and yesterday's motions make it unlikely the measure will get a hearing this session.