Friday, April 03, 2009

Iowa state supreme court upholds same-sex marriage

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund is reporting “The Iowa Supreme Court ruled this morning that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in Iowa” in a broadcast email.

The case is Varnum v. Brien and LLDEF has its court papers and legal arguments at this site. Iowa state supreme court justice Cady wrote:

"We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification."

Lambda Legal had “filed this case in 2005 on behalf of six same–sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Iowa, and on behalf of three of their children. Dawn and Jen BarbouRoske of Iowa City are one of our wonderful plaintiff couples. They have been together more than 18 years and have two children, McKinley and Breeanna.”

That would seem to mean that Iowa will join Massachusetts and Connecticut as states allowing same-sex marriage. In all three states, as well as California, state supreme courts have ruled that bans on same-sex marriage violate the state constitution. California would rejoin the list if Proposition 8 is overturned, or if (more likely) another referendum is held in 2010, which many felt would go for same-sex marriage through “political process.”

Picture: St John's Church in Richmond, VA, site of Patrick Henry's "give me liberty" speech.

The Des Moines Register story today ("Unanimous ruling: Iowa marriage no longer limited to one man, one woman") is here.

Update: April 15, 2009

The Washington Post has a long article this morning by Keith B. Richburg, "How gays won a marriage victory: for 7 years, activists eyed a seemingly unlikely target: Iowa", link here. The article mentions that activists may press for gay marriage in Rhode Island in 2011 when Gov. Donald Carcieri, leaves office because of term limits.

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