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Iowa Supreme Court: Gay Marriage Back On Track

[1]The good news is that you can stop holding your breath now. The bad news is that there is more work to do.

The Iowa Supreme Court today upheld Judge Robert Hanson’s 2007 decision in Varnum v. Brien [2]. Today’s unanimous court decision (early rumors had indicated there was dissent on the court) strikes down Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act.

Steve Sheffler of Iowa Christian Alliance hit on a very real financial impact today:

What this means for Iowa and perhaps for the forty-seven other states in the country that currently do not recognize same-sex marriage is, to say the least, a monumental mess.  Because Iowa’s statutes pertaining to marriage do not restrict that privilege to Iowa residents, gay couples from any state may come to Iowa, get married, return to their state and demand recognition under the Full Faith and Credit (Article IV, Sec. 1) provision of the U.S. Constitution.  “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.”

I have not had time to review the decision [3] yet, but apparently marriages can commence in 3 weeks.   In making this decision, the justices are quoted from their summary ruling as saying:

“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.”

Interesting to me on two counts:

  1. The court comes out and states squarely that they know this decision does not conform to the will of the people.
  2. The court seems to be subtly suggesting the very answer conservatives sought 4 years ago: a constitutional amendment.

From what I’ve heard, this topic will likely dominate the General Assembly’s work next week, as well as be center stage in the media.  Expect to hear more this weekend, here and elsewhere.

I’ll say it once.  I don’t know if the decision was legally right or wrong.  But allowing marriage to be defined as anything other than a union between one man and one woman is bad for society, and Iowa in particular.  This is a dark day in Iowa.