Iowa Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Same Gender Marriage
April 3, 2009
by John Long
On April 3, 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court issued their decision in a landmark case for what is now commonly referred to as gay marriage. The case, Varnum, v. Brien, was brought by Lambda Legal representing six same-sex couples. The state’s ruling goes into effect in three weeks on April 24, 2009.
Today’s Des Moines Register reports:
“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 newspaper also reports that many outside of Iowa were anxiously awaiting the news and according to court spokesman Steve Davis, “The Iowa Supreme Court’s Web site was deluged with more than 1.5 million visitors as of 11 a.m.”
One Iowa, www.oneiowa.org has more information on today’s scheduled rallies around the state. There will probably be a rally planned for Kansas City and we will update this story and the Camp Calendar of events as soon as we know location and time.
Local residents in the LGBT and allied communities in Missouri and Kansas have already been flooding Facebook pages with their responses. Here are just a few:
Sarah Gillooly, PROMO. “Iowa Unanimously Favorable! Marriage Equality IS a Midwestern Value!”
AJ Bockelman, PROMO. “Folks we have marriage equality in IOWA! Rev. Becky would you marry Jeromie and I in the cornfields? The Iowa decision expressly notes that not all religious entities deny relationship recognition to gay couples and several are in full support!”
Nettie Alford, Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Kansas City. “Wow, there is hope for the midwest after all! And by the way...I am ordained & available to perform ceremonies.”
Mara Keisling. “Celebrating a huge win in Iowa. Congratulations.”
Beth Savitzky, KCAVP. “Go Iowa!”
Donna Ross, KCAVP. “Full marriage equality for Iowa! FYI, Iowa has statewide anti-discrimination laws for both sexual orientation AND gender identity (big hint to Barney Frank!). Fat chance that'll ever happen in my state.”
Spencer Brown (aka Daisy Buckett). “IOWA STRUCK DOWN THE BAN ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE! It's a good day here in the Midwest!!!”
Wick Thomas. “Woah. Iowa?”
And from some professional organizations:
A.J. Bockelman, Executive Director of PROMO, Missouri's statewide organization advocating for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons.
"While the Iowa decision doesn't directly affect Missourians, it shows that the trend toward equality is inevitable. The fact that Iowa is right next door to Missouri shows that marriage equality is not just a coastal phenomenon and should give hope to all Missourians who cherish fairness, justice, and equality. This is a truly historic day and a breakthrough for equal rights in the United States."
"Today's victory is a testament to the strength of love, hope and courage — our clients have shown an abundance of all three for many years and now at long last they will be able to marry," said Camilla Taylor, Senior Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal and lead architect of the Varnum v. Brien lawsuit. "This will go down as another proud day in Iowa's long history of protecting individual rights."
Ben Stone, Executive Director of the ACLU of Iowa
“Like the Iowa justices who courageously made Iowa a legal haven for desegregation and equality nearly a century before the federal government did so and who issued pioneering decisions advancing the rights of women, the court today showed the world that Iowa is again among the leaders in America’s quest for justice and fairness.”
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
"Today's ruling affirms that loving, committed gay and lesbian couples should no longer be excluded from marriage," said GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano. "GLAAD congratulates and expresses our deepest appreciation to One Iowa, Lambda Legal, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, and the other organizations, leaders and courageous couples whose work and perseverance culminated in today's ruling."
Rea Carey, Executive Director, The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
“This ruling marks another watershed moment in the struggle for full equality. No longer will same-sex couples have their relationships treated as less than equal by the state. The court rightly affirmed that no loving committed couple should be denied marriage and the critical protections only marriage can provide. This ruling also affirms our common humanity by providing same-sex couples with the opportunity to participate in the shared hopes and dreams of making a public commitment to the person they love. We are thrilled that equality has come to Iowa!”
The Iowa decision will no doubt have serious effects on the constitutional bans of same gender marriage in Kansas and Missouri and no doubt there will be challenges issued in both states. Whatever the future holds for other states, Iowa has shown that marriage equality is important to many Americans in the heartland as well as the east and west coasts.