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I’ve started to become more politically aware, especially when it comes to state politics. Part of this involves reading the new bills that get submitted by state lawmakers. One such bill is Iowa SF2130, introduced by Senator Dennis Guth.
Iowa Senate District 4
Senator Guth’s district includes Emmet, Hancock, Kossuth, Winnebago, and Wright Counties. Each of these counties voted heavily Republican in the 2016 election:
|County||% Voted Republican|
Edits to Marriage License Forms
SF2130 would require an addition to the marriage license form to add a sexual orientation column with the following options:
☐ Questioning or unsure
This question would be mandatory. Additionally the bill goes on to explain,
Nondisclosure or misrepresentation of sexual orientation on the application form for a marriage license and on a license to marry constitutes fraudulent concealment of sexual orientation which shall be a factor in determining the custody arrangement that is in the best interest of a minor child pursuant to section 598.41 of the Iowa Code.
Section 598.41 of the Iowa Code
Section 598.41 of the Iowa Code includes factors affecting custody of children. The first item is as follows:
The court may provide for joint custody of the child by the parties. The court, insofar as is reasonable and in the best interest of the child, shall order the custody award, including liberal visitation rights where appropriate, which will assure the child the opportunity for the maximum continuing physical and emotional contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved the marriage, and which will encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of raising the child unless direct physical harm or significant emotional harm to the child, other children, or a parent is likely to result from such contact with one parent.
The really shocking part about SF2130 is that it appears to modify section 598.41 to make “fradulent concealment of sexual orientation” weighed the same as domestic violence.
It also removes the requirement for custody mediation to determine the best interests of the child in cases where “fradulent concealment of sexual orientation” has occured.
Iowa State Senate
The current composition of the Iowa State Senate is 32 Republicans and 18 Democrats, meaning the Democrats are significantly in the minority. This allows bills like those of Senator Guth that equate failure to disclose one’s sexual orientation on a form to domestic violence to have a greater chance to pass, despite the damage they would cause to LGBT rights.
For a party that likes to talk about small government, that seems like big government overreach. As the APA notes, there is no evidence that sexuality of one’s parents has an impact on a child.
Voter turnout in Senator Guth’s district has dropped, but his share of the vote has increased, according to Ballotpedia (below.) Perhaps voters in his district really like his policies – but the rest of Iowa must live with them.
I hope that the people of District 4 will primary Dennis Guth in the next election to prevent him from introducing such biased and bigoted laws in the future.
Update Feb 21 2020: According to the Fair Marriage Foundation (who I won’t bother linking to), it turns out shortly after I published this article, the bill was tabled until the next session. While I was looking for that information on the Iowa Legislation website I came across this list of lobbyists who are against SF2130. Awesome!