A top Iowa civil rights panel voted in favor of backing gay marriage Thursday.

The resolution, passed by the six member Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC), says: “The ICRC supports the unanimous Iowa Supreme Court decision on civil marriage equality for all adults and opposes efforts to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision. The Commission believes that other civil rights issues remain to be resolved in Iowa and that Iowans should re-dedicate their efforts to ending discrimination for all Iowans. Iowa has a long-standing tradition of treating all Iowans fairly and this decision is symbolic of Iowa's historic protection of equal rights for all.”

The resolution was approved unanimously.

The Iowa Supreme Court legalized gay marriage on April 3. The seven-justice panel ruled without dissent that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry. The opinion is considered one of the strongest in favor of gay marriage yet.

Social conservatives in the state have called for placing a gay marriage ban in the Iowa Constitution. Democratic lawmakers blocked efforts by Republicans to begin the legislative process before the session ended. All 5 leading Republican gubernatorial candidates for 2010 oppose gay marriage, including frontrunner Bob Vander Plaats, who says if elected he'll sign an executive order placing a stay on gay marriages and force a vote on the issue. Others have called for the ouster of justices, three of which will be up for retention in 2010.

ICRC Executive Director Ralph Rosenberg told On Top Magazine that the panel has actively supported gay and lesbian issues in the past, including gay marriage.

“Given some public discussion over a possible constitutional amendment, the Commission decided to re-visit and update its position,” Rosenberg said in an email.

The panel first addressed gay marriage in 2006 with a statement opposing a constitutional ban, and the commission supports gay rights, Rosenberg said.

“Our Commission was very active and a leading advocate in the 2007 expansion of the civil rights law to include members of the GLBT community and to also achieve passage of the safe schools law for GLBT students,” he said.

Unlike states such as California which allow voter-initiated amendments, a constitutional amendment must be approved by legislators before heading to voters in Iowa.