Iowa Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban

Dawn, left, and Jen BarbouRoske, pictured with their two daughters, are plaintiffs in a challenge to Iowas ban on same-sex marriage.

Dawn, left, and Jen BarbouRoske, pictured with their two daughters, are plaintiffs in a challenge to Iowa's ban on same-sex marriage.


DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Supreme Court says the state’s same-sex marriage ban violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples, making it the third state where gay marriage is legal.

In a unanimous ruling issued Friday, the court upheld a 2007 Polk County District Court judge’s ruling that the law was unconstitutional.

In 2005, Lambda Legal, a New York-based gay rights organization, sued on behalf of six gay and lesbian Iowa couples in Polk County who were denied marriage licenses. Some of their children are also listed as plaintiffs.

Could this be a sign of the times? This issue seems to be running on a parallel track to other civil rights issuses that the Courts have addressed over the years. Read More.

  5 comments for “Iowa Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban

  1. Misha Houser
    April 3, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Hooray for Iowa.

    Today, the North Dakota legislature is considering the passage of SB 2278, which if passed, will amend the North Dakota Human Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in North Dakota.

    The vote is being held today to make sure that more legislators will be present to vote.

  2. Misha Houser
    April 3, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    UPDATE: North Dakota’s SB 2278 failed to pass. It was their first attempt and activists there are hopeful for the future.

  3. rlh
    April 3, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    This is of course a great, and apparently very well written, decision. As to the California Supreme Court, unfortunately, it’s not really the issue before them. I wish it were. This decision certainly tracks and supports the original gay marriage decision they rendered last year, but Prop 8, for sall its venality, is now the issue, not the overall constitutional analysis. I don’t hold out a lot of hope for the pending case; we’re going to have to do this the old fashioned way and convince the people. And let’s be positive – we’re only 2% away from doing it.

  4. April 3, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    To RLH

    As I point out in my post on the Iowa case today, the Iowa Supreme Court directly addressed the issue underlying the Prop 8 when it held that certain fundamental rights, including the right to the equal protection of the law, are beyond “the vicissitudes of political controversy” and “beyond the reach of majorities and officials” to limit or deny, and insisted that the Court has the responsibility “to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time.”

    Let’s hope our Court reads — and takes courage from — the Iowa decision.

  5. rlh
    April 3, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Mr. Fox – thanks for your note. Please understand that I agree with your analysis, but my concern is that California law’s whole “amendment v. revision” issue, which is the narrowcast subject of the present case, muddies things horribly. Iowa law, and the posture of that case, was blessedly simpler. I hope our Court does exactly what you describe, but it also has to act within the constraints of the Constitution – state and federsal – it has in place before it. The final battle here, I think, will inevitably be at the ballot box, and I’m confident that we can win there – more and more so as time passes. Dr. King’s line about the arc of history has never been truer than on this issue.

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