With same-sex marriage taking center stage across the United States, it’s been shocking to see which states are stepping up to the plate and those that aren’t. Proposition 8 rocked the entire nation due to California seeming like the natural candidate to finally legalize gay marriage somewhere in the west, however, since that time (and though the fight still wages on), 3 more states have opened up the equality floodgates.
As recently reported, New Hampshire and Vermont have each had bills passed through legislature to legalize gay marriage, although their futures are unclear as the Governors of both states have indicated they will veto the bills. But, it is with great excitement that we can now add Iowa to the very (VERY) short list of states that have now legalized gay marriage!
The Iowa Supreme Court announced today a unanimous ruling to legalize gay marriage- making it only the third state in the US and the first in its region! In its decision, the court indicates:
“We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective… The Legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification.”
In truth, the fact that Iowa has taken this step adds even more weight to this historic decision. Iowa is in the “heartland” of America and for the state to move forward with this action truly signifies that gay marriage has made a move into the mainstream. Even residents of Iowa are being quoted as thinking they would “never see this day”. It’s beautiful.
The next step for Iowa is a 21-day waiting period before the ruling is considered finalized. During that time, a request for a rehearing could be filed, however the Polk County Attorney General has indicated that his office will not be making such a request- which means the decision should go into affect in 3-weeks time.
Opponents of gay marriage will naturally be doing all they can to change the decision: bring about a right-wing ballot initiative to try and force a vote on the issue, etc… However, the case cannot be appealed at the state or federal level by opponents of the decision since they weren’t included as part of the original case and no federal issues were brought up. Additionally, although opponents could attempt to persuade Iowa lawmakers to address the issue, it’s ”exceedingly unlikely” gay marriage legislation will be brought up this session, which is expected to end within weeks, according to state Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs who also said he’s “not inclined to call up a ,” during next year’s session.
The case has been traveling through the courts since 2005 when Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of 6 gay and lesbian couples, including some of their children as plaintiffs as well, when they were denied marriage licenses.
This is an exciting and huge step towards equality in the United States. Only 3 down… 47 more to go! Kudos to the Iowa Supreme Court, Lambda Legal, the original plaintiffs in the suit and everyone else involved in making this happen. And, last but not least, congratulations to gay couples in Iowa!