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.

Bartz believes the DNR is over-stepping its bounds.

“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.


Pitch a Tent by Mary Witzig


pam w.
pam w7 years ago

Well, I, for one, feel MUCH better, knowing that, as I travel through Iowa, I'll be protected from CAMPING LESBIANS! One can't imagine the HORROR of occupying a camp site adjacent to HAPPY HOMOS!

(You DO know I'm being sarcastic, don't you? Please?)

Suzanne B.
Sue B7 years ago

How exactly do they know two people who are of the same sex and want to share a campsite are gay? What about two single Dads and their kids? How about Sisters? My Partner and her sister take the kids camping all the time. Oh, I get it, one of them are wearing high heels, so they cant be lesbians? It is time for the people of Iowa to stand up and tell this clown that his idea of what he thinks their state should be does not reflect the will of the people. I can repeat what others have said, but the fact that a Senator should be concentrating on real issues is a no brainer. People like this are making Iowa a laughing stock. With the help of the far right wing NOM (National Organization for Marriage), they managed to turn a routine Judicial retention election in to a circus. Talk about activism? The laws of Iowa have now officially been subverted. A judge can do their job, interpret the Constitution and still lose their jobs because some radical group does not like that interpretation? Iowa is America's heartland, but right minded people better look carefully at who makes thier laws, because the heart has gone cold. Removing judges whose decisions you do not agree with, no matter how rational the judicial logic is the start of a very slippery slope. Now it is Gay rights, what could be next?religious freedom (after all we are a Christian nation?) After that? Something you care about? We must protect judges right to rule without fear. Tent fees? Thats the least of Iowa's problems.

Beng Kiat Low
low beng kiat7 years ago


Kaitlyn K.
Kaitlyn K7 years ago

You'd think they'd allow everyone to pitch an extra tent married or not .

johan l.
paul l7 years ago

Sorry, Senator Batz, but you are going too far.
I do not think for one moment there is a sign outside the tent that says "Warning!" Occupied by gays!
Idiotic and there must surely be other issues to keep him occupied!

Kathy Javens
Kathy Javens7 years ago

what the hell??? there are so many more things to take issue over than this!!! if same sex marriage is legal then what is the big deal over pitching a tent. i really don`t understand this guy. and i don`t think i want to.

Mary K.
Mary Kesterke7 years ago

Oh, good grief!!! What is Mister Bartz' problem anyway? (homophobia obviously) As long as they're not bothering him, what's it to him where they camp? HOW LAME!!!!

Patricia Hernandez

If your Gay you can marry, join the military but no camping for you ! How stupid, dont you have more important thing to worry about Bartz

Dannielle S.
Elle S7 years ago

Thanks for the article

Lin Moy
Lin M7 years ago

How will others know they're gay?? They don't wear a sign ya know?? Dumb as a rock.