We love Zach Wahls, the 19-year-old Iowan who spoke before legislators yesterday about his family — just before the House voted for a constitutional amendment to ban Iowa's currently legal gay marriage. What's next?
Wahls is an engineering student at the University of Iowa who describes himself as an Eagle Scout and a small business owner-operator. "If I were your son, Mr. Chairman, I believe I'd make you very proud," he said. "My family isn't very different from yours." He added, "You are voting for the first time in the history of our state to codify discrimination into our constitution."
Vote they did — All 59 Republicans, and some Democrats, in the state House of Representatives voted for the constitutional amendment. That said, it doesn't have a chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where the majority leader said he won't allow it to come to a vote. (Side note: The perennial references in the Des Moines Register article to "one-woman, one-man marriage" as the alternative to same-sex marriage may be an improvement on "opposite marriage," but still makes it sound like marriage equality is about polygamy or something.)
Iowa legalized gay marriage in April 2009, when its state Supreme Court ruled that the government had no interest in denying gay couples marriage licenses. Ever since then, Republicans have been trying to torpedo it, including by repeatedly introducing constitutional amendments and fighting for the ousting (through Iowa's voters) of three of the Justices who made gay marriage possible.
Here's a highlight from the arguments made opposite Wahl's:
Rep. Rich Anderson, R-Clarinda, a lawyer who earlier this year put in his name for consideration to fill one of the three vacant Supreme Court seats, explained his vote this way: "See, a male and a female can do something that a homosexual couple cannot: They can create children accidentally. That's the issue. It's not about love. It's not about romance. It's about driving state policy toward responsible procreation."
State-mandated accidental babies for everyone!
Senate Democrats Say Loyalty To Gronstal Trumps Support For Marriage Amendment [Des Moines Register]
Proposed Constitutional Ban On Same Sex Marriage Stalls Amid Signs Of Support [Des Moines Register]