In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act passed by the Iowa Legislature was unconstitutional, which opened the door to gay marriage throughout the state.
However, this ruling was met with large controversy. In 2010, citizens voted to not retain the three judges on the Iowa Supreme Court who were up for retention in 2010, in protest to the gay marriage ruling in 2009.
Over the past few weeks, the Iowa legislature has taken up a bill that would propose this amendment to the Iowa State Constitution: “Marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state.”
If passed through both the House and Senate, the bill would start the process for this amendment to be on the ballot in 2014.
This proposal has been met with much debate. A hearing on the issue brought hundreds of people wishing to voice their opinion.
One of these was Zach Wahls, a college student at the Universityof Iowa who was raised by two mothers and is against the proposed amendment.
In an interview with him, he states that the experience of being raised by two mothers is overwhelmingly similar to what his friends experience with having one mother and one father. He still has male role models, as “it’s not like you can exist in America knowing only adults of one gender.”
Many students on campus also seem to be against the proposed amendment. Blake Norris, a senior, notes, “I don’t see any social, political or cultural reasons to put a ban on gay marriage. I don’t think that two men or two women marrying has any bearing on those who are not the two getting married.”
Brian Brandau, a junior, sees legal marriage (in contrast to religious marriage) as nothing more than convenient social arrangement supporting social stability.
Despite this, there are wide-ranging views on what will happen with the issue, from both residents of the state and outside the state.
Emma Reeves, a student at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., could see marriage in Iowa being defined as between one man and one woman until a national law supporting gay marriage is enacted.
Norris sees the issue staying contentious in Iowa for some time, perhaps until a national law is passed. Brandau and Wahls both predict an inevitable trend, which will eventually result in federal endorsement of gay marriage.
However, the short-run remains unpredictable while views remain so polarized and nuanced.
As Christians taking up the issue of legalizing gay marriage, there are a few things we are encouraged to keep in mind.
Wahls states that America does not base its laws on any one religion, and that Christians have differing views on what the Bible says about homosexual relationships.
Norris encourages us to research the issue fully, as the issue is not as black and white as it may seem.
Jeff VanDerWerff, a political science professor at NW, points out that there are differences in how people view the lawmaking process and what role the law plays.
He goes on to say, “As the 1978 report by the RCA Commission of Theology noted, approval of the homosexual orientation or acts is not a prerequisite to firm support for basic civil rights for gays and lesbians.”
And finally, Brandau has a wish for those over-concerned about the issue: “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all move on to more pressing issues?”