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Iowa Supreme Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

April 3rd, 2009

The Iowa Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriages was supposed to have been released twenty minutes ago, but the web site is down. But word is that the state Supreme Court has affirmed the lower court ruling. That lower court rulled that Iowa’s marriage law’s exclusion of same-sex couples was unconstitutional.  According to the Des Moines Register:

The Iowa Supreme Court this morning unanimously upheld gays’ right to marry.

“The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,” the justices said in a summary of their decision.

The court affirmed a Polk County District Court decision that would allow six gay couples to marry.

The ruling is viewed as a victory for the gay rights movement in Iowa and elsewhere, and a setback for social conservatives who wanted to protect traditional families.

The decision makes Iowa the first Midwestern state, and the fourth nationwide, to allow same-sex marriages. Lawyers for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group that financed the court battle and represented the couples, had hoped to use a court victory to demonstrate acceptance of same-sex marriage in heartland America.

To Iowa’s constitution, it would require approval in two consecutive legislative sessions and a public vote. This means that a ban would could not be put in place until at least 2012 unless lawmakers take up the issue in the next few weeks.



April 3rd, 2009 | LINK

I’m watching the live coverage of Lambda Legal announcement of the decision. Each of the 6 couples in the case are now making statements. I am so happy for them. The couple on now have their kids with them!
It’ll be forever coming to Ohio unless there’s a Federal action on this issue.

April 3rd, 2009 | LINK

This made my morning! Iowa, of all places…I live in California, I’ve had my share of disappointments over the last several months, but when Midwestern states such as Iowa begin to change like this, for the better, I have high hopes for the rest of the country.

April 3rd, 2009 | LINK

This is good news indeed! Can someone please tell us what is the making of the Iowa Supreme Court? How many Reps av. Dems?

April 3rd, 2009 | LINK

This is truly a great victory for us, one in hopefully several to come in the future. I just finished reading the entire decision from the court. They stated at the end of their decision the concerns of religion in this situation. They understood them but stated that religion, according to all Constitutions, cannot be part of law. They also touched on the fact that religions can continue to define marriage as they see fit. It is the law of Iowa, ie civil marriages, that are to change and be granted to same sex couples.

KUDOS, to the Iowa Supreme Court for following the law and not pressure from either side of the issue! They have paved new ground and formed the ground work for future litigation in other states. KUDOS to the Plaintiffs defense team, they played it perfectly. They took on equal protection, which should be the basis for all litigation when it comes to same sex marriage. Marriage may or may not be a civil right, however equal protection under the law and due process is. This is where we need to concentrate our efforts in the future in all the other states as well as the US DOMA. Every state has an equal protection clause in its Constitution, it MUST abide by that clause or they must throw out all of their laws.

Great job to everyone in Iowa. It proves that just because the majority of the people want something doesn’t mean that they are going to get it. Sometimes they just have to bow out gracefully, but we know that is not going to happen.


John Culhane
April 3rd, 2009 | LINK

I just posted a summary of the decision for anyone who is interested. I’m a law professor but I wrote the summary for interested readers who don’t have a background in law. You can find it at:

April 3rd, 2009 | LINK

Heh, I’m thinking of Harvey Milk’s quote when Anita Bryant got the Adoption Ban passed in Florida.

“She didn’t win.”

Go Iowa! :)

April 3rd, 2009 | LINK

I’ll admit I am mildly surprised this came from Iowa…but pleasantly surprised. (I must be too engrained with The Music Man stereotype.)

Thank you Mr. Culhane for your analysis. Those points need to be heeded in our debates in other States.

I loved the part where they said “…“sexual orientation is [so] central to personal identity” that it would be destructive to ask that it be changed.”

April 3rd, 2009 | LINK

I must agree with cowboy when he said:

I loved the part where they said “…“sexual orientation is [so] central to personal identity” that it would be destructive to ask that it be changed.”

April 3rd, 2009 | LINK

After California banned same sex marriage with an amendment right after it legalized it… i don’t quite have too many hopes this will remain.

Last i checked Iowa was not more socially liberal than California.

April 3rd, 2009 | LINK

Last i checked Iowa was not more socially liberal than California.

It’s the first time a state Supreme Court has spoken unanimously and utterly clearly to say that justice demands gay marriage legalization.

From the soc con websites I read, the rank and file knows it has lost Very Big. There is lots of loud talk about how voters will overturn it. But no talk at all about their side being able to prevail on the merits of their arguments (as such), let alone serious thinking about what would be justice.

The way the Iowa SC blew up their Authority of Tradition argument is what I suspect has really hit them hard. They seemed to think it could be denied but not demolished. Now that the Iowa SC has shown everyone how to dismantle it, their whole retrograde social policy platform (banning contraception and like sillyness) can get torn up in the public eye by a clever and determined opponent.

They can still win battles at the ballot box. But this particular unanticipated staggering blow to their public argument has their knees buckling moralewise.

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