April 3rd, 2009
10:51 AM ET
9 years ago

Iowa Supreme Court strikes down same-sex marriage ban

(CNN) - The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously rejected a state law Friday that banned same-sex marriage.

Iowa now will become the third state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage, after Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Friday's decision upheld a 2007 ruling by a lower court that Iowa's 1998 law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples went against the state's constitution. It becomes effective in 21 days.

"This is a great day for civil rights in Iowa," said attorney Dennis Johnson, a co-counsel with Lambda Legal, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of six same-sex couples seeking to marry in Iowa.

"Go get married. Live happily ever after," he said at a news conference where there was loud clapping among plaintiffs.

Other organizations were not pleased.

"It's, quite frankly, a disaster," said Brian English, a spokesman for the Iowa Family Policy Center. "Obviously, we're extremely disappointed. We're saddened. Perhaps a little bit surprised in the unanimous decision that the court handed down."

The state's highest court determined that "the Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution," court spokesman Steve Davis said in a written statement.

"The decision strikes the language from Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman. It further directs that the remaining statutory language be interpreted and applied in a manner allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil marriage," the statement on the court's Web site says.

The Iowa Supreme Court said it has the responsibility to determine if a law enacted by the legislative branch and enforced by the executive branch violates the Iowa Constitution.

"The court reaffirmed that a statute inconsistent with the Iowa Constitution must be declared void, even though it may be supported by strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion," the court said.

Polk County District Judge Robert Hanson earlier determined that the law violated the state constitution's guarantee of equal protection, and hurt gay and lesbian couples "in numerous tangible and intangible" ways.

"Civil marriage in Iowa is the only gateway to an extensive legal structure that protects a married couple's relationship and family in and outside the state," Hanson ruled in Des Moines. "Iowa reserves an unparalleled array of rights, obligations and benefits to married couples and their families, privileging married couples as a financial and legal unit and stigmatizing same-sex couples."

The case was joined on appeal by several state lawmakers who opposed Hanson's ruling, calling it "a mockery of the judicial system."

They argued that the ruling stepped on the state legislature's authority by using the courts "to effectuate fundamental changes in public policieregarding marriage."

Filed under: Iowa
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Dave

    Marriage between a man and a woman promotes the concept of heterosexual reproduction, which by the way is the only way humans reproduce. Our society, and indeed our species needs to have heterosexuals. Marriage as a government institution is a promotion of heterosexuals, and thus perpetuates the society. Marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman does nothing to promote this. In fact if homosexuals are allowed to adopt etc. this will socialize more people to act as a homosexual, increasing the number of homosexuals. This over time will undermine our society resulting in our ruin. Thanks Iowa Supreme Court.

    April 3, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. Angela

    I have a number of gay friends in relationships and the marriage ban causes problems for them in ways you might not expect. If my husband wants to move in order to take a better job, I'm covered by his health insurance. I'm covered no matter what I end up doing for work. If a gay couple moves for one person's job, the other person may have no health insurance until/if he or she gets a job, and even then the coverage may be poor compared to what the partner's would have provided. That's only one example. It seems very unfair to me.

    April 3, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. Dee Garland, Tx

    All of you out there who support discrimination hear this, we gay Americans are here, we pay taxes and we support our communites. I know many of you would prefer that we go back into our closets, but we refuse to live in the shadows any longer. It will take time, however, we will have the same rights as all of you eventually. The progression has started so get used to it.

    April 3, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Jefe April 3rd, 2009 11:25 am ET

    Unbelievable that in America people care what other people are doing with their own lives, ESPECIALLY Republicans, who are supposed to be so high and mighty about government non-interference.

    I'm not pro- or anti- gay marriage, I just don't care. I'm not gay, so what does it matter to me whether gays marry? I just don't get it. But I do know, THIS is not the nation where the choice should be made by Big Brother. Those who are looking for that kind of a nation should move to North Korea.

    Well said!. You're right about choice. No one is forcing anything here..This is about free choice.

    April 3, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. arithmetic is liberal

    For those who think we should put people's right up to a vote:

    If the South was allowed to vote on segregation int he Civil Rights Era, how do you think that would have turned out?

    April 3, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. Central FL

    Discrimination does not belong in our constitutions (period). That should be something we all agree upon, regardless of affiliation, orientation, or morals. God bless the good people of Iowa and the USA.

    April 3, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. WI student

    Lawrence in a traditional marriage-
    "but marriage is a sacrament received in the Church and same sex partners ought not to be INSULTING and DEBASING our Christian beliefs."
    ok just to point out you do realize that their is a difference between a religious marriage ceremony and a legal marriage ceremony right. and you basically are saying that you are absolutely right about marriage and their can be no other answer to the problem than a Christian one.

    April 3, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Evan

    Equality under the law.
    Discrimination is illegal.

    This is America. This is the land were all are created equal. These are not just empty words. When the law is used to discriminate and suppress, then the law is wrong.

    What goes on between consenting adults is none of my business, none of the government's business, no one's business. That is the key phrase however - consenting adults.

    April 3, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. Ehsanul Haque

    Do I like to comment on same sex marriage?? I personally do not like to use the word 'marriage' to recognize the union of same sex. I do not practice religeon as I always find controvercies in all religion. But ethically, socially, morally and traditionally I do not want to call that a marriage. With due respect to the Gay community (as they are also the creations of the same nature as all others, have the right to live and enjoy the same rights as all others) I would call that a 'Union' or some other respectable term. Why? The word 'Marriage' was created to define the social bondage of a man & woman only. Any other relations, man & man, woman & woman must be addressed with a different term. That will be good for the society and also for the Gay community and the controvercy within the religious communities also will fade out with time.
    Finally, I do not support the 'Iwoa Supreme Court' decision. Who is the justice at the 'Supreme Court' or any court? A human being and human beings are always emotional, and sometimes responds to support the controvercial issues under certain environmental pressure even a mistake occurs. At all, human beings are human beings.

    April 3, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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