Apr 03, 2009

Marriage Equality Arrives in the Midwest: Iowa Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage

Who would have expected that Iowa would be the next U.S. state to have full marriage equality? But today the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the state's law limiting marriage to one man and one woman violates the state Constitution's guarantee of equal protection.

The Supreme Court's decision was unanimous; the justices held that a law that is inconsistent with the state constitution must be declared void, even if it is "supported by strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion." The Iowa court found that sexual orientation is a suspect class, so that any law affecting that class must be reviewed under a heightened level of scrutiny.

The court rejected the argument that the same-sex couples weren't "similarly situated" to heterosexual couples because we "can't procreate naturally." It also concluded that the state's position that opposite-sex parents provide the optimal environment for raising children doesn't provide a valid basis for limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples -- even if that's true, the court said, the law doesn't prohibit sexual predators, deadbeat parents, abusers, or violent felons from marrying and becoming parents, and so it can't prohibit same-sex couples from doing so. (Gee, thanks.) Other arguments considered and rejected by the court: promoting the stability of opposite-sex relationships, conservation of resources, and finally, tradition and religious opposition.

The decision will become final in 21 days. That means same-sex couples should be able to marry beginning April 24.

During the presidential caucuses, we hear it said that, "As Iowa goes, so goes the nation." One can only hope!