An opponent of gay marriage says the secondhand impact of the institution is more destructive than smoking, the Des Moines Register reported.

Chuck Hurley, president of the Christian-based Iowa Family Policy Center, a leading opponent of gay marriage in Iowa, likened the negative effects of smoking to gay marriage in a statement released Friday, and urged legislators to take action.

“The Iowa Legislature outlawed smoking in an effort to improve health and reduce the medical costs that are often passed on to the state,” Hurley said. “The secondhand impacts of certain homosexual acts are arguably more destructive, and potentially more costly to society than smoking.”

“Homosexual activity is certainly more dangerous for the individuals who engage in it than is smoking,” he added.

Hurley said he based his conclusions on a report issued this week by the U.S. Center for Disease Control that found gay men have higher rates of HIV and syphilis.

“Iowa lawmakers need to pay attention to hard facts and not be persuaded by emotion laden half-truths,” Hurley said. “Because of their unwillingness to correct the error of last April's Iowa Supreme Court opinion, the Iowa Legislature is responsible for sanctioning activities that will lead to dramatically higher rates of HIV and syphilis in Iowa.”

Social conservatives in Iowa have declared war on the state Supreme Court's 2009 unanimous ruling legalizing gay marriage and are fuming that Democrats have blocked passage of a resolution that would put the issue before voters. Opponents have vowed to make repeal of gay marriage in the state a pivotal issue in the upcoming gubernatorial race.

The agency's report, however, found that “factors such as homophobia and stigma” increase the likelihood that gay men won't seek prevention, testing and treatment services.

Jordan Selha, executive director of the AIDS Project of Central Iowa, agreed with that finding: “Stigma and discrimination only add to the barriers people face in accessing testing, prevention and healthcare services,” he told the paper.