In Iowa, kisses in public may not last more than five minutes, a man with a moustache may never kiss a woman in public, and in one city (Ottumwa), a man may not wink at a woman he does not know. But, lest you think Iowa has a prudish and antiquated view of sexuality, Iowa also happens to the only midwestern state that allows gay marriage, and it seems, will fight to keep it that way.
On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state law defining marriage only as a union between a man and a woman violated the equal protection clause in the Iowa constitution. Conservative opposition has attempted a legislative effort to enact a constitutional amendment reversing the court, but on Feb 10, the Iowa House defeated the attempt to put the matter on the ballot by a 54-45 vote. Thus, at least for now, no constitutional amendment proposal will come before the Iowa voters.
The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa supports marriage equality, and a letter signed by 167 members of the clergy was presented to the Iowa legislature opposing the drive for a constitutional amendment. Many of these were ELCA Lutherans according to Pretty Good Lutherans blog.
It appears that the legislative action blocking the drive for a constitutional amendment is consistent with the mood of Iowa voters. A poll conducted Feb 15-17 found mild support for marriage equality and broad support for civil unions. Here are the poll results:
QUESTION: As you may know, same-sex marriages have been legal in Iowa for over a year. Would you favor or oppose a constitutional amendment which would over turn current law allowing same sex marriages in Iowa?
YES NO NOT SURE
ALL 39% 42% 19%
MEN 43% 40% 17%
WOMEN 35% 44% 21%
DEMOCRATS 22% 64% 14%
REPUBLICANS 66% 13% 21%
INDEPENDENTS 33% 45% 22%
QUESTION: Regardless of how you feel about same-sex marriages, do you favor or oppose allowing same-sex couples the same benefits allowed to heterosexual couples, known as civil unions?
FAVOR OPPOSE NOT SURE
ALL 51% 40% 9%
MEN 47% 44% 9%
WOMEN 55% 36% 9%
DEMOCRATS 77% 21% 2%
REPUBLICANS 16% 68% 16%
INDEPENDENTS 55% 35% 10%
In an unrelated note, HRC Backstory posted the following:
Grinnell College’s Board of Trustees unanimously elected Raynard Kington, an openly gay man, as its next president. Nestled in the corn fields of Iowa, Grinnell is a small liberal arts college known for its politically active student body and commitment to social justice.