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Iowa gay and lesbian couples to push for marriage licenses

Iowa gay and lesbian couples to push for marriage licenses

At least 15 gay and lesbian couples say they will request marriage licenses Friday in Iowa City, Iowa, testing a state law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman only. "I fully expect to be turned down, and that in itself is significant," said Janelle Rettig, who is organizing the event with her partner of 15 years, Robin Butler. Rettig said she and other gay and lesbian couples from this liberal eastern Iowa college town have been emboldened by news that President Bush and Republican leaders support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning gay marriage. On Wednesday, Iowa lawmakers took a symbolic step to support such a ban when a senate committee passed joint resolutions asking Congress and the state to adopt constitutional amendments against same-sex unions. "What is missing from this whole debate is that these are real people with real concerns and real families," Rettig said. "And when the politicians use us as their political punching bags, they lose sight that we are real people." Rettig said gay and lesbian couples will meet at the Johnson County recorder's office to apply for marriage licenses. She said that number is likely to grow as other couples and supporters get involved. County recorder Kim Painter said she will uphold state law and deny the requests. State lawmakers passed legislation in 1998 defining that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid. Iowa law carries no provision for recognizing same-sex marriages or civil unions. Rettig said she hopes Friday's event shows how marriage laws keep homosexual couples from enjoying the same rights and benefits, such as health insurance, afforded to heterosexual couples. "It's because we are gay and lesbian that we are being denied basic civil rights," she said. "We're not able to take care of others and our families when we're not allowed access to all these laws that help families."

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