As gay and lesbian couples anticipate
Monday's start of gay marriage in Iowa, social conservatives and some
Republican lawmakers continue to attempt to block it from starting.
One Republican lawmaker's bluff and
bluster is being challenged and a social conservative group says it
will legally back up opponents of the decision.
Yesterday, Ed Fallon, a former
legislator from Des Moines, filed a formal ethics complaint against
Senator Merlin Bartz, a Republican from Grafton who has urged county
recorders to defy the state Supreme Court's April 3 decision that
legalized gay marriage, reports the Des Moines Register.
Fallon claims Bartz has violated his
oath of office by urging county recorders to break the law.
“It's really important that state
lawmakers respect their oath of office and we have really serious
questions about whether that's happening in this case,” he said.
On Tuesday, Bartz attempted to give
shelter to county recorders by introducing an amendment that would
allow county recorders who objected to gay marriage to refuse to
issue a marriage license to gay and lesbian couples on
“conscientious” grounds. Senate leaders ruled the issue out of
order and it was not debated.
Bartz is also supporting a petition
drive by the Iowa Family Policy Center, the state's primary anti-gay
marriage group, that urges country recorders to ignore the court's
Fallon's complaint questions if
Republican legislative staffers were used to develop a website
dedicated to promoting the petition.
State Attorney General Tom Miller has
repeatedly warned country recorders that they cannot refuse to issue
a marriage license to gay and lesbian couples. A position Bartz
criticized in a press release titled Bartz To AG: Stop The
“Tom Miller’s silence on this issue
of historic magnitude [gay marriage] prior to the Supreme Court
ruling is deafening. He has no right to advise county recorders to
violate their conscience, given the fact that he has evidently
selectively chosen to utilize his,” Bartz said.
The Focus on the Family-related
Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) says it will defend free of charge any
county recorder wishing to deny gay couples a marriage license. The
Christian conservative group claims Iowa law protects citizens from
being forced to “violate his or her conscience.”
The Iowa Family Policy Center forwarded
the ADF's offer in an email to all of Iowa's 99 county recorders.
“Government employees who believe in
marriage as the union of one man and one woman should not be
penalized for abiding by their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal
Counsel Doug Napier.
How many gay and lesbian couples
seeking a marriage license will be turned away on Monday by
“conscientious” objectors remains to be seen, but the threat of
denial is a certain rocky start to gay marriage in Iowa.
Meanwhile, a possible Republican
candidate for governor in 2010, Bob Vander Plaats, has demanded
Governor Chet Culver stop gay marriage by issuing an executive order
and has promised if elected he will end gay marriage in Iowa.