Iowa legalizes same sex marriage

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled this morning that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in Iowa.

The Iowa Supreme Court is the fourth state high court to rule that excluding same–sex couples from civil marriage is unconstitutional after Massachusetts, California and Connecticut. In their unanimous decision, Justice Cady wrote: 

"We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification."

Lambda Legal filed this case in 2005 on behalf of six same–sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Iowa, and on behalf of three of their children, according to Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal.

"This victory has meaning beyond Iowa — it sends a positive message to the whole country about standing up for the values of equality and fairness and family," Cathcart said. "Winning an important ruling like this re–energizes us at Lambda Legal for the fights ahead and reminds us how lucky we are to be working together for justice and dignity for LGBT people and people with HIV."

Demographics compiled by the Williams Institute show approximately 5,800 same-sex couples living in Iowa. Twenty percent of these couples are raising children in their homes. According to the Family Equality Council, marriage discrimination contributes to same-sex couples' comparatively lower household incomes, despite their higher than average rates of employment in Iowa, and today's ruling goes a long way to support GLBT Iowans in a time when all families are struggling greatly.

“The Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous, pro-equality ruling in Varnum v. Brien reminds us what's at stake in the struggle for equal marriage—families' abilities to care for and protect themselves," said Jennifer Chrisler, executive directory of the Family Equality Council, in an email. "Thousands of LGBT families in Iowa are raising children. These children deserve the same recognition and respect that children of other married parents get. I'm very proud that Family Equality Council has actively supported LGBT families in Iowa leading up to the Court's decision. Working with state partners, we will continue to prepare our Iowa families for any backlash that may come ..."

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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