Gay Families Can’t Camp in Iowa?
Iowa State Senator Merlin Bartz took his crusade to undermine the right Iowans have to marry, regardless of sexual orientation, to the state’s campgrounds by calling into question the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) decision to allow gay couples to pitch an extra tent when camping at state parks.
The DNR, in light of the fact that same sex marriage is legal in Iowa, wants to change the current language of its family policy from “husband and wife” to “spouse” which would allow same sex couples the same “extra tent” privilege that male/female married couples are allowed under the state park’s rules. Though the fee for renting a campsite is the same for a family as it is for a non-family, a family is allowed to pitch more than one tent without incurring an extra fee.
“They’re changing their language even though the state legislature has not had a debate on this particular issue,” Bartz said.
Bartz sits on the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee, and he wants the DNR to explain these proposed changes. He believes that, in the wake of the state supreme court ruling that legalized same sex marriage in Iowa, state agencies shouldn’t take it upon themselves to make any policy changes that extend rights to gay couples, or their families, unless the legislature authorizes it specifically.
He believes that gay marriage advocates have lulled Iowans with their mantra of “it won’t change anything” when, in his opinon, it is changing things.
And that’s a scary prospect for Bartz, who tried to subvert the court’s ruling in favor of same sex marriage back in 2009 by urging the state’s county recorders to violate the court ruling by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. He even went so far as to post instructions on how to obstruct the ruling on a Republican blog site.
Those opposed to same sex marriage tried, and failed, to get the legislature or the state’s governor, Chet Culver, to take up the issue in the current session. A poll of Iowans showed that same sex marriage was an issue of only slight importance to the majority of the state’s citizens who preferred their elected officials work on mitigating the effects of an ailing economy and job losses, rather than worrying about who is marrying whom.
While Bartz is correct in his assertion that state agencies don’t have the authority to create policy that violates Iowa law, same sex marriage is legal in Iowa, and it follows that same sex couples might start families. Male/female marital legal unions are presumed to be families without any formal nod from the statehouse, however, so why should male/male or female/female legal unions be any different?
Back door attempts to force the same sex marriage issue onto the state’s plate are a waste of taxpayer money in addition to being questionable in intent. If the citizens of Iowa were concerned about the families of same sex spouses being afforded the same extra tent rights at state run campgrounds as those of opposite sex couples, wouldn’t they have said so?
But the fact is that 92 percent of Iowans say that same sex marriage in the state has not affected their lives at all.
Nitpicking is how the legitimacy of people’s rights are called into question and cause them to lose their footing over time. Iowans would be wise to pay attention to the tactics of Sen. Bartz, who clearly has an agenda.