Same-Gender Weddings: Affirmed by Susan Hart Hellman contributing writer
With this one word, AFFIRMED, on April 3, 2009 the history of same-gender marriage in the State of Iowa was positively amended. History of Social Issues in Iowa Although Varnum v. Brien surprised many who believed such a ruling would never happen in a “heart-land” state, the legislation is actually in keeping with Iowa’s history of leadership in social change.
Far before the Civil War, in 1839 the Iowa Supreme Court declared a Missouri slave free once he entered Iowa. In 1851 the Iowa General Assembly removed an interracial marriage ban, 102 years prior to a similar federal ruling. Iowa was first to allow married women property ownership in their own names in 1851. In 1868 the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a student could not be barred from
receiving an education due to race, and a year later Arabella Mansfield became the United States’ first female lawyer thanks to the Iowa Supreme Court. In 1873 that same court declared that a woman of mixed-race had the right to dine in a “Whites Only” restaurant. Is it any wonder this State’s motto, created in 1847, proclaims “Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain”? History of Varnum v. Brien
IN THE SUPREME CO URT OF IOWA No. 07–1499 Filed April 3, 20 09 KATHERINE VARNUM , PATRICIA HYDE , DAWN BARBOURO JENNIFER BARBOURO SKE, SKE, JASON MORGAN , CHARLES SWAGGE DAVID TWOMBLEY, RTY, LAWRENCE HOCH, WI LLIAM M. MUSSER DREAMING, INGRID , OTTER OLSON, and REVA EVANS, Appellees,
TIMOTHY J. BRIEN, In His Official Ca County Recorder pacities as the and Polk County Polk Registrar, Appellant. Appeal from the Iowa District Co Robert B. Hanson urt for Polk Coun , Judge. ty,
Defendant appeal s from district ruling holding st court summary ju ate statute limi dgment ting civil marria union between a ge to a man and a woman unconstitutional . AFFIRMED.
In 1998, Iowa seemed to take a giant leap backward when its gay and lesbian citizens’ liberties and rights were withheld via the passage of the state’s “one man/one woman” Defense of Marriage Act. But in 2005 six Iowa same-gender couples requested marriage licenses from the Polk County registrar Tim O’ Brien. In compliance with the 1998 law, licenses were denied. Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of those couples, including Katherine Varnum and Patricia Hyde, in the Polk County District Court. Varnum V. Brien claimed inequality in the protection of these couples’ constitutional rights. On August 30 2007, Polk County District Court judge Robert Hanson issued a ruling striking down the 1998 law, but the next day, he placed a stay on his ruling pending appeal by the Polk County Attorney to the Iowa Supreme Court. However, on April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld his ruling; the 1998 act was struck down, and Iowa became the third state, and the first “heartland” state, to legalize same-gender marriage. Courts were instructed to begin issuing licenses to samegender couples on April 27, and hundreds of couples applied, including some from Minnesota and Nebraska. ●● cont’d