Scroll To Top

Iowa judge rules
against same-sex marriage ban

Iowa judge rules
against same-sex marriage ban


Gay and lesbian couples in Iowa should have the right to marry despite a statute banning same-sex marriage, a district court judge ruled Thursday.

Gay and lesbian couples in Iowa should have the right to marry despite a statute banning same-sex marriage, a district court judge ruled Thursday. Judge Robert Hanson said a 1998 statute defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection and due process clauses of Iowa's constitution.

"Couples, such as plaintiffs, who are otherwise qualified to marry one another may not be denied licenses to marry or certificates of marriage or in any other way prevented from entering into a civil reason of the fact that both persons comprising such a couple are of the same sex," he wrote in a 63-page decision.

Camilla Taylor and Kenneth Upton Jr., senior staff attorneys with Lambda Legal, argued for the plaintiffs alongside Dennis Johnson, a Des Moines attorney.

"I think it shows that every state in the country can offer fair treatment," Taylor told The Advocate on Thursday. "Even in the heartland--especially in the heartland."

The ruling stems from Varnum v. Brien, filed in December 2005 by six long-term couples--some with children--who were denied marriage licenses by Polk County recorder Tim Brien. The couples sought the status of marriage to protect their families. According to Lambda Legal, which is representing the couples, the words husband, wife, spouse, or some form of the words marriage or marry appear in more than 540 sections of the state's laws, which exclude same-sex couples from many of the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Rachel Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the conservative Iowa Family Policy Center, told the Chicago Tribune that Thursday's decision will be appealed. "We're very disappointed and will pursue to the next level of courts," she said.

Taylor said that the decision will hold up in the higher courts because Iowa has a track record of supporting equal treatment and due process under the law.

"Iowa has a long tradition of doing the right thing," she said. "Over time, Iowa has provided fair treatment of all sorts of individuals. For instance, they allowed women to become lawyers before a lot of [neighboring states] allowed them to."

The state currently permits gay and lesbian individuals to adopt children, and some jurisdictions in the state allow same-sex partners to adopt their partner's child, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

In April 2006, 26 conservative Iowan legislators attempted to halt Varnum. The Alliance Defense Fund, on behalf of the legislators, argued that the statute defined marriage only for heterosexual couples. That August a judge denied their application, stating that the legislators' interests in the case were insufficient for intervention. (Michelle Garcia, The Advocate)

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Mike Grippi