The Iowa Family Policy Center and the Alliance Defense Fund are encouraging Iowa’s county recorders to exercise their “right of conscience” and refuse to process marriage license applications from same-sex couples. Former Iowa legislator Ed Fallon has responded by filing ethics charges against state Sen. Merlin Bartz for circulating a petition and creating a website in support of the anti-gay groups.
“It’s really important that state lawmakers respect their oath of office and we have really serious questions about whether that’s happening in this case,” Fallon said. Fallon pointed to public comments Bartz has made urging recorders to refuse to comply with an April 3 ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage. Fallon argued that the oath of office lawmakers take requires them to follow the law and urge others to do the same. “We shall obey and encourage people to obey and support the laws of this state,” said Fallon. “This clearly seems to be inconsistent with that.” Bartz has supported a petition being circulated by the Iowa Family Policy Center, urging county recorders to defy the law. The complaint also questioned whether public money was used to develop and maintain a Web site that Bartz used to promote the petition. Fallon noted that the Web site lists as contacts Republican legislative staffers “who are entirely funded at taxpayer expense.”
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is warning workers in county recorders’ offices to process the paperwork of gay couples or face the penalty of law. Miller: “If necessary, we will explore legal actions to enforce and implement the court’s ruling, working with the Iowa Dept. of Public Health and county attorneys.” Iowa begins granting same-sex marriage licenses on Monday. The Alliance Defense Fund is offering free legal defense to any state worker that refuses to comply.