2009 April 3

Iowa Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage


In Varnum v. Brien, decided on this day, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the prohibition on same-sex marriages violated the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. A year and a half later, however, three of that Court’s judges were removed by a referendum sponsored by anti-same-sex marriage forces, on November 2, 2010. The attempt to remove a fourth judge in 2012 was unsuccessful.

The political and legal climate regarding same-sex marriages changed dramatically in the 2000s, as an increasing number of states legalized same-sex marriages and federal courts began declaring unconstitutional state prohibitions on such marriages.

The Supreme Court declared a major provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional on June 26, 2013 in the case of Windsor v. United States, ruling that the federal government had to recognize legal same-sex marriages. In the year following the Windsor decision, a number of federal courts declared state prohibitions of same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, and another major Supreme Court case on this issue seemed inevitable.

On June 26, 2015, in Obergefell v. Hudson, the Supreme Court declared that same-sex marriage was constitutional in the entire United States under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Iowa Supreme Court: “Iowa Code section 595.2 is unconstitutional because the County has been unable to identify a constitutionally adequate justification for excluding plaintiffs from the institution of civil marriage. A new distinction based on sexual orientation would be equally suspect and difficult to square with the fundamental principles of equal protection embodied in our constitution.”

Watch same-sex marriage applications in Linn County, Iowa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSzknE0NlCU

Learn more at Freedom to Marry: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/

A timeline on same-sex marriage in America: http://gaymarriage.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=003891

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