(Des Moines, Iowa) In a unanimous ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court Friday said that the state law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional - upholding a lower court ruling.
“The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,” the justices said in the 69-page ruling.
The court also discounted civil unions as an alternative to marriage.
“A new distinction based on sexual orientation would be equally suspect and difficult to square with the fundamental principles of equal protection embodied in our constitution,” the ruling said.
The decision means that gay and lesbian couples may immediately obtain marriage licenses and be allowed to marry under Iowa law in 21 days.
Several hundred people - supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage - gathered outside the courthouse for the release of the ruling. A number of state troopers also were on hand, guarding the entrance to the building.
When the ruling was issued, gay rights supporters let out a massive cheer.
“Today’s victory is a testament to the strength of love, hope and courage,” Camilla Taylor, senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal and lead architect behind the lawsuit told a news conference.
“Our clients have shown an abundance of all three for many years and now at long last they will be able to marry. This will go down as another proud day in Iowa’s long history of protecting individual rights.”
Dennis Johnson, a former Iowa Solicitor General who also argued on behalf of the gay and lesbian couples had a message for gay couples.
“We have all of you courageous plaintiffs to thank: Go get married, live happily ever after, live the American dream,” he said.
One Iowa, a group supporting same-sex marriage, is planning victory rallies tonight across Iowa. [...]
And there can't be an Amendment till 2012! Sen. Gronstal has already announced that “there will not be a vote as long as I am the majority leader.” So this pushes the first vote in the Senate out until the 2011-2012 session, which means the earliest an amendment could come before the voters would be 2013 at the earliest. And that assumes that the Senate changes hands in 2010. If the Senate doesn’t change hands (Democrats have a 32-18 advantage), then the earliest possible date is pushed out even farther.
I want to be hopeful and happy about this, as much as everyone else. Being gay has its share of discrimination, heartbreak and trauma, and the idea that we can have civil rights is thrilling and vindicating.
It's also like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football. Each time, Lucy convinces Charlie Brown that she won't pull the football away, only to sadistically do so when he runs to kick it. Hawaii, Vermont, Oregon, California (the big burrito of gay marriage disappointment, but not the first or only), all played Lucy to the gay Charlie Brown. Meanwhile, DOMA, and a couple of dozen states with anti-gay bills over the past decade.
We do have more rights than we used to, and several states have domestic partner rights "same as" or "similar to" marriage. We have antidiscrimination bills as well. So we have progress, even if it's the 2-steps-forward-1-step-back kind of progress. Which is better than none. Maybe it builds character?
Anyway, I wish the absolute best for the Iowan GLBT community. Maybe when the sky doesn't fall in the next few years, and no massive tornadoes and floods destroying DeMoines or Keokuk (watch out down river from N. Dakota!), and no plagues of locusts and smiting of first-born sons, they might just get used to the idea. I truly, truly, hope so.
Anyway, I wish the absolute best for the Iowan GLBT community. Maybe when the sky doesn't fall in the next few years, and no massive tornadoes and floods destroying DeMoines or Keokuk (watch out down river from N. Dakota!), and no plagues of locusts and smiting of first-born sons, they might just get used to the idea.