Iowa Is Third State to Allow Gay “Marriage”

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From the Des Moines Register:

The Iowa Supreme Court this morning unanimously upheld gays’ right to marry.

“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 a summary of their decision.

The court rules that gay marriage would be legal in three weeks, starting April 24.

You can read the full opinion here.

I’m stunned.  I’ll blog more on this later, but right now I’m just shaking my head in disbelief.

Update: Decided to change the title of this post.  Argon asks why am I stunned.  I’m stunned because I grew up here, and have been back in Iowa for almost seven years after living out of the state for awhile.  This decision doesn’t reflect Iowa values.  Iowa is the third state to legalize gay “marriage” after Massachusetts and Connecticut.  I never thought that we would “lead” the nation in this area.  Yes, Iowa is trending blue, but that has been a pretty recent development.  I guess I’m stunned because I had hoped and prayed this ruling wouldn’t come down this way, but I’m not surprised.

More info:

There won’t be an appeal.

Polk County Attorney John Sarcone told the Associated Press that his office won’t ask for a rehearing, meaning the court’s decision should take effect after that three-week period.

"Our Supreme Court has decided it, and they make the decision as to what the law is and we follow Supreme Court decisions," Sarcone said. "This is not a personal thing, we have an obligation to the law to defend the recorder, and that’s what we do."

Advocates against same-sex marriage have said they would likely not appeal a ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.  They plan to ask lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment and put the issue to voters.

That doesn’t surprise me because I don’t believe (I’ll have to check for sure) that the U.S. Supreme Court accepted appeals from Massachusetts or Connecticut, so there really isn’t a precedent SCOTUS intervention.  A constitutional remedy seems to be the only solution, and apparently about 20 people went over to the Statehouse to discuss that with Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy.  The earliest that the citizens of Iowa can vote on such a measure is 2012.

Chuck Hurley, President of the Iowa Family Policy Center in response to this ruling and legislators’ earlier disbelief that DOMA would ever be overturned said:

Hurley said the Legislature should have passed such an amendment years ago. That would have headed off the lawsuit that led to Friday’s Supreme Court decision.

He said legislative leaders contended in the past that no constitutional amendment was needed, because the state already had a law banning gay marriage. “They said ‘The court’s not going to overturn the statute, you’re crazy,’ ” he recalled. “Well, now who’s crazy?”

Also the Des Moines Register interviewed different opponents and supporters of same sex “marriage,” and Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines), the Iowa General Assembly’s only openly gay member was quoted saying, “I’m off the wall.  I’m very pleased to be an Iowan.”

Well, Senator McCoy, I’m not.  I’m ashamed to be an Iowan today.

My wife read an earlier version of this article when the opponents of same-sex marriage showed up to the Iowa Judicial Building, McCoy reportedly said, “Here comes the God Squad.”  Interesting that they would scrub the latest edition.  Is it the Register’s job to protect state senators from idiotic remarks?  Methinks not.

Video: Raw footage of opponents of this ruling being interviewed by WHO-TV (Des Moines’ NBC affiliate):

2nd Update: The Des Moines Register’s Editorial Board is obviously giddy about this decision.  You know the Register isn’t even worthy of being our bird’s cage’s lining, and they wonder why their circulation numbers are bleeding.
Additional thoughts: Bob asked about looking at this decision on civil grounds.
A provision for civil unions would be much preferable than this.  While I’m not thrilled about that either I can see the case for it.  At least contractual matters, visitation rights, etc.  Because really you can do that with all types of relationships.
What the state shouldn’t be doing is redefining marriage, because they aren’t the ones who defined it to begin with.  So same-sex couples can legally get married in Iowa in three weeks.  I will never refer to them as such, because in God’s eyes they are not.
3rd Update:  From around the blogosphere…

And oh, Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines) keeps running off at the mouth.  Apparently he thinks it is a good idea for Iowa to become a Mecca for gay marriage.  If his senate district is smart they’d give this loudmouth the boot.  You can watch his video here or below.

HT: Iowa Independent

Also here are some names to remember when they come up for a retention vote (Iowa citizens get to vote to retain judges), obviously vote NO.

Chief Justice Marsha K. Ternus and Associate Justices Mark S. Cady (author of the opinion), Michael J. Streit, David Wiggins, Daryl Hecht, Brent R. Appel, and David L. Baker

Please read our comment policy before leaving a comment.

  • Shane Vander Hart

    Nope your IP is messed up. Mine sometimes shows as Louisville, KY. My bad.

  • Argon

    As the court noted in its ruling, current marriage laws do not take into account the long-term suitability of applicants or seek to determine whether any marriage is likely to last. It seems that if the public was truly concerned about marriage stability, they would work to pass laws that allow pre-screening interviews or tests (like a driver's license) prior to granting a state-sanctioned marriage.

    Honestly, I'm sure we could a more predictive means of screening for long term marriage suitability among those who seek a license. Are there other minorities or groups of people who are likely to divorce? For example, anyone under 21 years of age? Blacks? Hispanics? Jews? Third-generation farmers? Socio-economic status? Religious affiliation? ZIP code?

  • Sambo

    Shane wrote: “Homosexuals that have monogamous, long-lasting relationships are in a very small minority.”

    Please provide evidence to suggest this is the case. Unless you've surveyed every gay man and woman, I have no idea how you would know this. I'm not being facetious, just looking for what gave you this impression.

    Also, I don't appreciate being called a troll, but I guess that's how you have chosen to spread God's love. I'm not sure He would be impressed with that, but so be it. I simply stumbled upon this blog when researching some reactions, I'm sorry that you feel that even though this is a public blog, the PUBLIC can't comment.

    Finally, even if you give me a valid reason why you feel gay relationships can't be long lasting and monogamous, have you thought the fact that gay men and women CAN'T marry might have something to do with that? How about you look at some stats from The Netherlands or Spain, countries that have had no issues with gay marriage?

  • Sambo

    Shane wrote: “How will gay “marriage” help? It won't. It'll make it worse. Then what's next? Seriously? Do we bring polygamy back? Do we allow incestuous relationships? What if I wanted to marry Mac my mini-daschund? Should that be allowed? I mean seriously where do we draw the line here?”

    Absolutely absurd and void of logic. It's insulting that you somehow relate a homosexual relationship to incest or bestiality. Again, look at Spain, The Netherlands, Canada, Massachussetts and Connecticut – no dogs marrying humans there, and their societies have not collapsed.

    How about demonstrating some love by accepting Iowa's decision for what it is. It will never affect YOUR marriage, so the Christian thing to do would be to stop spreading this hate (yes, it's hate) and moving on to your own relationship with God.

  • Sambo

    RickD335 wrote: “Sorry, Sambo – I respectfully disagree that “a large number of God's people just became happier and more equal under God.” Under man's law? Certainly – the laws crafted by man are frequently unequal, poorly written, and try too often to solve one problem while unintentionally creating others – Nebraska's Safe Haven law is one recent example that comes to mind. Under God's law, however? Sorry, I don't see support for that position in scripture – anywhere.”

    In that case, drive through the next stop sign you see. I mean, seriously – why abide by ANY of man's laws then?

    My point was the inequality of gay men & women not being able to have the 1000+ items of legal protection that marriage brings has now been amended and, in my humble opinion, God would be delighted about this based on what we read about all of us being equal, and by the way Jesus treated all mankind.

    Here's a sobering thought: Are you aware that the life partner of a same-sex couple cannot visit their loved one in hospital, even if they were on their death bed? Are you aware that a woman can go bankrupt because her girlfriend's finances are inaccessible when she dies? Do you really want your taxes to 'bailout' these folks who are unprotected just because they are same-sex?

  • Argon

    Those arguments about “optimal families” and such have been made. The court noted in its statement that such considerations were *not* written into current laws regarding who can get married. In fact, the state allows perfectly wretched couples to marry. If one is proposes that the optimization of family structures is something which the state should seriously confront in the legal definition of marriage then why not address that *specifically*?

  • Argon

    Of course, one should actually consider the subset of those who wish to marry. Personally, I expect divorce rates among gays to be at least the same as heterosexuals. Then again, my brother-in-law has been with his partner for a least three decades and they're looking forward to retiring to an old Wisconsin farmhouse not too long from now.

  • Tim

    There's another reason the opinion won't be appealed to the SCOTUS – it can't be.

    The decision was decided under the Iowa Equal Protection Clause, not the Federal one. The opinion notes that while Iowa generally follows federal equal protection rules, it is able to depart from them when it wants to.

  • Amanda S.

    Sambo, please explain why marriage between two closely-related persons (incest) should be prohibited.

  • Argon

    Amanda S., why don't you offer your explanation as well? How close is too close, and why?

  • RickD335

    To use your specific example, scripture says nothing about traffic laws, while it speaks explicitly about homosexuality.

    Christ treated us all as equal, true – He loves all of us, regardless of who we are, what we do, who we sleep with – but I do not go along with the idea that love means approval.

    As I said in a follow-up to a response to Shane, I believe that the church and the state should separate, and I do not mean a trial separation. The state will permit things that fly in the face of sound teaching and that are flatly prohibited in scripture, and the church should not be a party to these new legalities.

    Men want to marry men, and women women? The state says it violates civil rights? There are higher laws, and the church should not be forced by prevailing cultural norms to bow to the lower law.

    I am aware of the human suffering you describe, Sambo – I cannot help but be aware of it – but I cannot support the lifestyle, or the preference, or whatever. Change the civil laws to accommodate and address the inequalities, and inequalities will still be present if not newly created – but do not force the church to accept it by legislation. That is not hate, by the way – love isn't always easy to accept as it is.

  • Amanda S.

    As a Christian, I refer to Leviticus 18. (In short, because God said.) But because of separation of church and state, that is not an acceptable reason. At this time in human history, I cannot think of one secular reason. Can you?

  • Argon

    Leviticus is interesting. A lot of Old Testament laws can be viewed as codifying health practices (shellfish?), establishing relationships between the tribe and God or supporting tribe coherence & stability. The latter includes relationships between tribe members and the means of resisting assimilation into surrounding cultures by maintaining differences in practices or dress (e.g. not wearing coats of many cloths). Leviticus 18 spends a lot of time outline what intimate relationships Israelites cannot have among their relations, particularly blood relatives. It describes these taboos as bringing disgrace to other members of the family. Some rules seem linked to family harmony but others may correspond with genetic closeness.

    Now what might be God's reasons behind these proscribed acts? In some instances (perhaps not all), might one be able to find some common ground with those who aren't Israelites but perhaps Buddhists instead?

  • Amanda S.

    God's reasons (anyone's god(s), for that matter) are apparently irrelevant now. There's no point in finding common ground. You know, separation of church and state. So, I ask again. Why should it be prohibited? I'll give you a hint. Take a look at this article:

  • Pingback: Iowa Same-Sex Marriage Decision Update | The Conservative Reader: Iowa

  • PEE

    I think this is just Gay!

  • Argon

    Finally get back to you, Amanda…
    I do not think searching for a common ground is pointless or even futile. It's definitely a worthwhile exercise, IMHO, even if it doesn't work out.

    We share a common biology and we're also social beings. Together, these features do a great deal to constrain us to experiencing similar feelings and ideas. One interesting thing we've found is that during early development, humans seem to inherently reveal similar core tenets (or guiding a sense of what is good or bad). What varies over time and across cultures is which core ideas are given precedence over others. So, if a situation arises where moral ideas “A” and “B” come into conflict, the choice of favoring A or B depends on the culture. It's not that one culture lacks morality, it's that they've got a different prioritization. Humans and their societies really aren't as wildly different as may appear on the surface. Most 'moral' disputes between conservatives/liberals & other cultures comes down to slight differences in the ordering of moral hierarchy.

    The case then simplifies to seeking common values and debating why one moral principle should overrule another in any particular (or general) case. Some cases will never get resolved completely or to the satisfaction of all.

    You cited the case of first cousin marriage, which I don't believe is forbidden in Leviticus yet is banned or restricted in many states. So why did states create those laws? Probably a mixture of genetics issues, which explains why exceptions are sometimes made for infertile couples, and social preference. It is true that first cousins having children is not as risky as once thought and so that's a good strike against that particular prohibition. However, more closely related individuals have much greater risks of having children with genetic problems. So, on that level, I think one could find common ground across religious beliefs for opposing those arrangements.

    With one caveat…
    In the future, it might be possible to reduce the risk through genetic screening and certainly for now, couples could adopt children or simply not have kids. This could circumvent the problems with genetics. We currently don't prevent other couples with known, high-risk genetic issues from having children and so there is a problem of asymmetric application of principles.

    Myself, I don't attempt to justify prohibitions against sibling matches as long as it involves adults, consent and no abuse. I personally find it completely unappealing but that's not an opinion I would legally impose on others. I tend to be libertarian in matters involving love and the bedroom.

    Interesting story here:

  • shelly bilsborough

    why are Christians NOT outraged about the amount of adultery committed by OTHER CHRISTIANS everyday, and all the divorces (I do til death do us part) WHY DON'T THESE PEOPLE LOSE THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS?

  • Shane Vander Hart

    Who says Christians aren't concerned about these matters? I think you are making a mighty big assumption there. We can't take away something we don't give.