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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

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  1. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Tim 4:3-4

  2. Watching our moral-less,incompetent leader(s) and the evil spreading state by state, I feel we are the frog in the pot of boiling water moving toward spiritual death with each temperature increase. But some of us recognize the impending doom before us. Are we helpless to stop it? Is this a calculated step toward the end, toward Jesus' second coming? Yes, Bush made the point that the states decide this issue. But how can the rest of us stop it from spreading?

  3. What a beautiful day. Justice AND EQUALITY always wins.

    For those of you 'shaking your head in disbelief', don't worry – this has nothing to do with YOUR marriage. Chill. Rejoice in the fact that a large number of God's people just became happier and more equal under God.

  4. I noticed that the wording said civil marriage. Should the church wake up and realize that there is a difference between civil and religious ceremonies – and then act on that difference by not participating in what it cannot abide – it would not be a bad thing. In fact, those who do not recognize God should only be entitled to civil marriage, not a church wedding, in the first place.

    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.

  5. While I may not agree with the ruling based on my religious perspective I totally understand the thinking of the court on civil grounds. Maybe you can address the civil aspect when you blog about this Shane.

  6. ok, so say we ban gay marriage in all 50 states. it's totally illegal blah blah. what will that do? will it stop homosexuals from having monogamous and long-lasting, loving relationships?

    will that pave the way to banning divorce and salvaging the value of marriage in our society?

    will that get the 10 commandments put into the constitution or jesus' picture on the $100 bill?

    i don't understand what the end goal is here.

  7. The slow drip of change is wearing down the stone of religious opposition.

    The outrage, where it exists, is due to unrealistic expectations that human rights can be denied to homosexuals forever on religious grounds, in a society governed by secular laws.

  8. Oh yes, love trolls coming by. Have you read this blog ever before today?

    Honestly could care less about non-Iowan liberal opinion – they are the ones who financed this mess. And yes I know you do not live in Iowa – I checked your IP.

  9. Chuck Hurley hit the nail on the head about “who is crazy now?” Because people who resisted the amendment process before said that this would never happen.

    Need to get amendments started BEFORE things go to court. The earliest we can vote is 2012, and now we have a state senator wanting to turn Iowa into a gay marriage Mecca. Ugh.

  10. Hi welcome to the blog, I love it when trolls come by. So far I have yet to hear a dissenting voice from Iowa comment here.

    I'm sure they are happy, but marriage isn't a equality issue, they had the same right to marry as I do – to a person of the opposite sex, which is how God defines it.

    They may have civil permission, but that doesn't equal God's blessing.

  11. Tiffanie,

    Homosexuals that have monogamous, long-lasting relationships are in a very small minority.

    No it won't, and I'm not for banning it, but rather not make it so easy to get one, and no banning it won't increase the value of marriage.

    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?

    Didn't know anybody was pushing for the 10 commandments into the constitution or Jesus' picture on the $100 bill – hey I'll partner with you fighting those things.

  12. There practical, familial, and societal arguments to be made here as well.

    Sure I'll give you my main objection is due to marriage being defined by God, but that isn't what is being presented in Court.

    By the way, point to where in the Constitution it even talks about marriage will ya?

  13. I appreciate what you said Shane but in reality the state has defined marriage for a long time.. and for a long time that definition worked.. until gay people wanted to legally commit themselves to each other like hetero do.. it is a difficult one to argue from a civil perspective.

    For me it would be better if the state only defined civil unions.. but really what difference would that make in the end.. a rose by any other name is still a rose.. calling it a civil union doesn't really make it any less of a marriage.

  14. Nor am I thrilled about it, but as a practical matter one could see this train coming from a long ways away. Civil law and church doctrine are not, and never will, be identical – and frankly, I'd prefer that the church be the church and not some church/state hybrid where those who believe in God (and those who believe God – the distinction is quite real) have to kowtow to the state in all things. Marriage in the church should be reserved for those who believe, not for those who want use of the facilities and can pay the fees. All those who wish to be married without making their commitment and vows to God as well as to their partner should have access to marriage by Justice of the Peace or other state-nominated officials.

    A problem arises when we have to consider how the state will recognize those married in and by the church if the church will not recognize those whose marriages do not conform to a scriptural model – but if the church does not separate itself from the state's reach, then what difference can we make?

  15. Congrats, tiffanie, on your impressive deployment of myriad strawmen to buttress a virtually non-existent argument.

  16. Unless Iowa City doesn't count as Iowa, you are wrong. Native Iowan. Born and raised just out of Dubuque. Either my IP is messed up or you are lying.

  17. Oh, and one more thing. I've read your blog quite often. I like to know how the other side sees things.

  18. 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?

  19. 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?

  20. 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.

  21. 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?

  22. 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*?

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

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

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

  27. 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.

  28. 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?

  29. 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?

  30. 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:

  31. 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:

  32. 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?

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