The Iowa supreme
court is ready to hear oral arguments Tuesday in a gay
marriage case that USA Today reports "could
echo throughout the nation and be far more difficult to
challenge at the ballot box than a high-profile ruling in
California, legal experts say."
If Varnum v.
Brien is decided in favor of the six same-sex
couples who filed the case, Iowa will become the first
Midwestern state to legalize gay marriage,.
passed a Defense of Marriage Act in 1998, but the state
currently has no constitutional prohibition against gay
marriage. Passing an antigay constitutional marriage
measure retroactively would be an involved process
requiring a simple-majority vote of both the Iowa house
and senate in two consecutive legislative sessions followed
by a majority approval of voters in the next general
"This is the
heartland of America -- a place where family values are
revered," University of Iowa law professor Angela
Onwuachi-Willig, who signed a court brief supporting
gay marriage rights, told USA Today. "It would
be an incredibly strong signal for the Iowa supreme
court to find that same-sex marriages are legal."
Last week reports
began to surface that New York State senate Democrats
may have secured control of their chamber by bargaining away
a promised same-sex marriage bill.
In California the
supreme court has agreed to hear challenges to the
just-passed Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment
rescinding recently legalized same-sex marriage.