Iowa Celebrates Four Years of Marriage Equality
April 3, 2013
Since the ruling, roughly 6,000 couples have wed in Iowa
(Des Moines, IA)—Today, April 3, marks the four-year anniversary of the historic marriage decision in Iowa. On April 3, 2009, the Iowa State Supreme Court unanimously ruled that excluding gay and lesbian couples from marriage violated the equal protection clause of the state Constitution. Since then, roughly 6,000 couples have wed in Iowa. The case was Varnum v. Brien.
“Iowa is a better place because of marriage equality. For four years now, gay and lesbian couples have been able to stand up in front of friends and family and make that lifelong commitment to one another and to have that commitment recognized by their state. To hear those words ‘by the power vested in me by the state of Iowa’ is powerful,” said Donna Red Wing, One Iowa Executive Director.
In December 2005, legal advocacy group Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of six same-sex couples who sought to marry in Iowa. The lawsuit argued that under the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Iowa Constitution, it is unlawful to bar same-sex couples from marrying. In August 2007, the Polk County District Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. The case was then appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court. Fifteen amicus briefs were filed and oral arguments were held in December 2008 before the state’s Supreme Court. On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of marriage equality. The decision detailed the benefits of marriage to family and society and upheld the promise of equal protection for all Iowans. The decision also strengthened religious freedom in the state by reiterating that religious institutions have the ability to decide whether they would like to perform same-sex marriages or not. Click here to read the decision (pdf).
“April 3, 2009, was a magical day for Trish and me,” said Kate Varnum, plaintiff in the marriage case Varnum v. Brien. “We laughed and hugged and cried. But mostly we celebrated. We celebrated our state for doing the right thing and valuing all families, including ours. I still get chills when someone calls Trish my wife or when I introduce her as my spouse. We are married, and people get that.”
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