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Iowa and New Hampshire save marriage equality laws
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Iowa and New Hampshire save marriage equality laws

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

On February 9, state legislators in both Iowa and New Hampshire voted to preserve their states' marriage equality laws.

Iowa Republicans wanted to pull House Joint Resolution 6 out of a committee and place it on the debate calendar to avoid a February 12 legislative deadline. HJR 6 would ultimately put a constitutional amendment defining a marriage as "one man and one woman" on the ballot.

The Iowa House spent almost 30 minutes on a rarely used "call-of-the-House" in which each of the 100 members are required to come into the chambers to vote unless they are formally excused.

The measure ultimately failed 45 to 54 in a vote that was mostly along party lines.

The effort also failed in the Senate where a vote was not taken.

All 18 Senate Republicans and one Democratic Senator signed a petition asking that the HJR 6 be put on the floor for debate. They needed 26.

In view of Tuesday's actions, it is likely that the measure will fail to meet its deadline and quietly die.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in April 2009 that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry for reasons of equity and constitutional equal protection clauses.

In New Hampshire, the House Judiciary Committee also voted Tuesday to recommend that the House not pass two bills attempting to reverse New Hampshire's same-sex marriage law.

One bill called for an outright repeal of same-sex marriage, while the other called for a public vote on the matter.

The vote was 12-8 on both measures, again along party lines.

Marriage equality opponents knew their chance of success on the measures was slim, but they hoped to keep the issue before voters in case Republicans regained control of the legislature in November. They would then repeal same-sex marriage.

The whole House could act on the Judiciary Committee's recommendations next week.

New Hampshire became the fifth state to legalize Gay marriage on June 3, 2009. The new law took effect on January 1.

Besides Iowa and New Hampshire, same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont. Maine's legislature passed a marriage equality law that was signed into law in May 2009, but it was reversed by a "people's veto" election in November last year.

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