Iowa Supreme Court: Gay Marriage Back On Track

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. 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 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.

About the Author

Mr. Smith is the Publisher of The Conservative Reader. He is Partner/Owner of Ambrosia Web Technology as well as a Systems Architect for Wells Fargo. Art hold a degree in Computer Science from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and is a political blogger at the Des Moines Register. Art's views are purely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wells Fargo.


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  1. jrshipley | Apr 4, 2009 at 7:33 pm | Reply

    A few weeks ago this blog wrote about young Iowans leaving the state.

    Well, realize this. %60 of Iowans under 30 support full marriage equality and %75 want full rights for gay couples (i.e., %15 would oppose using the word “marriage”). I’d venture to speculate that the percentages increase with education. I’m a graduate of Coe and had ecstatic “yay Iowa” messages flood my facebook from many of my fellow graduates that moved out of state. These are highly talented people in fields like biotech and information science. They tend not to go in for the whole religious fundamentalism thing.

    There are economic consequences for the state to not listening to our young people on this. If it faced a referendum (though rights should not be subject to tyranny of majority) it might go %55-%45 against, but there’s a huge generational divide there.

    We’ve already got King saying don’t come to Iowa to get married, as if we couldn’t use the influx to our economy. If conservatives want to have a future in this country they need to stop the whole “culture war” thing and start thinking more practically. There is no “assault on heterosexual marriage”. I’m not about to leave my wife for a man now that it’s legal. Among young Iowans, the culture war rhetoric of the right is just fodder for jokes.

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