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Advocates lobby for constitutional marriage amendment in Iowa

Advocates lobby for constitutional marriage amendment in Iowa

Advocates of a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Iowa say they'll work to defeat any lawmaker who does not support it. "If they do not support us, we're going to replace them in this house," said Tim Preston, spokesman for the Iowa Family Political Action Committee, during a news conference Tuesday on the steps of the state capitol. Chuck Hurley, president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, a conservative group pushing the amendment, said constituents in key senate districts will be contacted to pressure lawmakers to support the measure. Those who don't will be targeted when they run for reelection, he said. Democratic senator Joe Bolkcom said Iowans spoke on the issue in last November's election when they defeated Republican senators Ken Veenstra and Neal Schuerer, two sponsors of the marriage amendment in the senate last year. Bolkcom said supporters of the amendment campaigned against several opponents of the measure last year but failed to defeat them. "I think debating changing the constitution to prevent gay marriage is a waste of time," he said. The house judiciary committee approved the proposed amendment 13-6 last week, clearing the way for debate in the full house. Republican leaders said they have the votes to move the measure through the house and to the senate, where approval is in doubt. The senate, tied at 25-25, rejected a similar amendment last year when Republicans held a firm majority. Republican representative Danny Carroll, the house sponsor of the measure, said the amendment would head off any attempt by the courts to strike down the state's law that strictly defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. "Last fall the state of Washington had the same law, only to wake up one morning to find that an appeals court had ruled that law unconstitutional," Carroll said. "In Iowa we don't want to wait for that to happen." A constitutional amendment must pass two general assemblies before it can be put before the voters. If the proposal wins approval this year and next, it would then go on the ballot during the general election of 2008. Opponents said Iowa law already bans same-sex marriage and that such an amendment is unnecessary. "I think there are people up here in search of a problem that doesn't exist," said Democratic senator Matt McCoy, who came out as gay in the pages of The Advocate last year. "They have a solution in search of a problem, and Iowa doesn't need that." Esther Norris, 70, of Des Moines, said she has a gay niece and neighbors but supports the amendment because it encourages families. "I see children coming from broken homes," she said. "I think it's so important for children to have both a mom and a dad." (AP)

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