Family Law

Marriage
Iowa Code § 595.2(1), overruled by Varnum v. Brien, 763 N.W.2d 862 (Iowa 2009)
Iowa recognizes marriages between same-sex couples, following an unanimous 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision in Varnum v. Brien. “In this case, we must decide if our state statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the Iowa Constitution, as the district court ruled. On our review, we hold the Iowa marriage statute violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. Therefore, we affirm the decision of the district court.”

Joint Adoption
Iowa Code § 600.4(2)
Iowa Code § 600.4(2), which establishes the right of married couples to jointly adopt a child, uses the words “husband” and “wife,” which implies exclusion of same-sex couples. Recent Iowa Supreme Court rulings suggest that, if challenged, the law would be overturned, but to date there has been no legislative or judicial action that clearly establishes the right of LGBT Iowans to access second-parent adoptions.

Second Parent Adoption
Iowa Code § 600.4(1)
Iowa Code § 600.4(1) allows an “unmarried adult” to adopt a child, and has been read to allow LGBT individuals to adopt the legal and/or biological children of their partners. For example, the plaintiffs in Gartner v. Iowa Department of Public Health (see De Facto Parent Recognition below) had previously completed a second-parent adoption.

Stepparent Adoption
Iowa Code § 600.4(3)
Iowa Code § 600.4(3), which addresses stepparent adoption, uses the words “husband” and “wife,” which implies exclusion of same-sex couples. Recent Iowa Supreme Court rulings suggest that, if challenged, the law would be overturned, but to date there has been no legislative or judicial action that clearly establishes the right of LGBT Iowans to participate in stepparent adoptions.

Surrogacy Laws
Iowa Code § 710.11
Iowa law only addresses surrogacy arrangements in Iowa Code § 710.11, which exempts a “surrogate mother arrangement” from a law that otherwise makes it a felony to buy or sell a human being. Iowa law does not have specific requirements or qualifications for surrogacy arrangements.

Foster Care Laws
Iowa Code § 237.1(7)
Iowa Code § 237.1(7) defines an “Individual” as “an individual person or a married couple who provides child foster care in a single-family home.” The code does not reference sexual orientation or gender identity of prospective child foster care providers.

Parental Recognition & Donor Insemination
Gartner v. Iowa Department of Public Health, 830 N.W.2d 335 (Iowa 2013)
Iowa law does not specifically address donor insemination and parental status. In 2013, the Iowa Supreme Court held in Gartner v. Iowa Department of Health that a married lesbian couple had a right to have both of their names listed as parents on a birth certificate issued for a child born to one of them, using sperm from an anonymous donor.

De Facto Parent Recognition
Iowa Code § 144.13(2), overruled by Gartner v. Iowa Department of Public Health, 830 N.W.2d 335 (Iowa 2013)
Iowa Code 144.13(2) creates a presumption of parenthood for a husband who is married to a woman at any time from conception to birth. In Gartner v. Iowa Department of Health, the Iowa Supreme Court held that this law violated the Equal Protection clause of the Iowa constitution because it excluded married same-sex couples from the presumption of parenthood. There is no presumption of parenthood for unmarried couples.

Laws Permitting Discrimination in Placement
Iowa Code § 237.1(7)
Iowa Administrative Code § 441—202.4 (234)
Foster Family Home License Application (470-0689) available as part of the Prospective Families Inquiry Packet

Iowa Code § 237.1(7) defines an “Individual” as “an individual person or a married couple who provides child foster care in a single-family home.” The code does not reference sexual orientation or gender identity of prospective child foster care providers. The Iowa Administrative Code, which is authorized to create rules to implement the Code, says that “Race, color, or national origin may not be routinely considered in placement selections,” but does not mention sexual orientation or gender identity. [See Iowa Administrative Code § 441—202.4 (234)]
The Iowa Department of Human Services, which administers the foster care system, includes the following Policy Regarding Discrimination, Harassment, Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity on form 470-0689, the Foster Family Home License Application: “It is the policy of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide equal treatment in employment and provision of services to applicants, employees and clients without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, disability, political belief or veteran status.”