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Iowa high court upholds lesbian divorce

Iowa high court upholds lesbian divorce

The Iowa supreme court refused on Friday to tamper with a lower-court decision that dissolved the civil union of two women, saying the conservative plaintiffs who sued were not harmed and had no standing in the case. The high court noted that it was not judging the merits of the claims by the legal arm of the Des Moines-based Iowa Family Policy Center, a church, and a handful of state legislators. "Rather, our task is to determine whether these plaintiffs are the proper parties to bring this action," the court wrote. Their lawsuit challenged a ruling by judge Jeffrey Neary that let Kimberly Jean Brown end her civil union with Jennifer Sue Perez. The two were joined in March 2002 in Bolton, Vt., according to Brown's divorce petition. Neary granted a divorce, later altering the ruling to say it terminated a civil union. The plaintiffs argued that the judge had overstepped his authority by recognizing same-sex marriage, but the supreme court disagreed. "We fail to see how the district court's action in dissolving a civil union of another couple harmed in any specific way these plaintiffs' marriages, and for this reason they have shown no legally recognized interest or personal stake in the underlying action," the high court said. The court also rejected an argument by Matthew Wentz, pastor of the Church of Christ in Le Mars, that the decision threatened his ability as a minister to solemnize marriages. Messages left Friday for officials with the Iowa Family Policy Center and three state lawmakers who were plaintiffs in the case were not immediately returned. The judge, who won a retention vote last fall, declined to comment on Friday's ruling. (AP)

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