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Lawmaker wants to exclude gay couples from state camp site policy
State Sen. Merlin Bartz, R-Grafton, told Radio Iowa Thursday that he wants to be “vigilant” and keep state agencies from writing rules that extend new benefits to gay couples. His latest target: camping rules in the state park system.
Bartz wants the Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials to explain why gay couples should be eligible for family camping at state parks. The state allows families to put up more than one tent on a camp site, and Bartz is worried the DNR is going to change its rules to include gay couples in its definition of “family.”
The Iowa Supreme Court overturned the state’s Defense of Marriage Act last year, legalizing same-sex marriage.
From Radio Iowa:
“A lot of the advocates of gay marriage in Iowa have said, ‘It doesn’t affect anything. Nothing has changed,’” Bartz says. “The reality of it is that everything is changing.”
Bartz garnered headlines shortly after the Iowa Supreme Court decision last year when he, along with the Iowa Family Policy Center, called for county recorders to defy the ruling and refuse marriage licenses to gay couples. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller pointed out, however, that county recorders do not have that type of authority, and ultimately there were no couples denied a license.
Bartz also attempted to insert language into a bill that would have allowed county recorders to refuse to issue a marriage license as a “matter of conscience” without fear of prosecution. The language was ruled out of order.
The state legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee will discuss the matter Monday, but any decision on a rule change won’t happen until this summer.