Marriage Equality

Marriage Equality in Iowa

Looking at how far we’ve come

Moments after the Iowa Supreme Court ruling on Varnum v. Brien on April 3, 2009.

Moments after the Iowa Supreme Court ruling on Varnum v. Brien on April 3, 2009.

In December, 2005, six Iowa couples represented by Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in Polk County District Court seeking the freedom to marry in Iowa. The lawsuit argued that that under the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Iowa Constitution it is unlawful to bar same-sex couples from marrying. As the case progressed, hundreds of Iowans including faith leaders, lawmakers, and social science experts, filed an additional 15 amicus briefs in support of the freedom to marry on behalf of the couples.

On August 30, 2007 an Iowa District Court judge ruled that denying gay couples marriage was unconstitutional. Twenty-four hours later, the judge issued a stay on his order; but in that time, 19 couples applied for marriage licenses and one couple actually married, remaining Iowa’s only legally married gay couple up until that point of time.

On Friday, April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled in the case Varnum v. Brien that prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying is unconstitutional. Read the decision.

Since 2009, there have been numerous attempts to exclude gay and lesbian couples from marriage in Iowa. One Iowa has vigilantly pushed back against these attacks. Because of the efforts of One Iowa and our coalition partners, the freedom to marry still exists in Iowa today.