As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, April 03, 2009

"...No, It's Iowa."

The Iowa Supreme Court today ruled unanimously that a 1998 state law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The Iowa Supreme Court this morning struck down a 1998 state law that limits marriage to one man and one woman.

The ruling is viewed as a victory for the gay rights movement in Iowa and elsewhere, and a setback for social conservatives who wanted to protect traditional families.

The decision makes Iowa the first Midwestern state, and the fourth nationwide, to allow same-sex marriages. Lawyers for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group that financed the court battle and represented the couples, had hoped to use a court victory to demonstrate acceptance of same-sex marriage in heartland America.

Here's the opinion and the summary. You may be wondering whether Iowa can pull a Prop. 8 and reverse the decision at the ballot box. It's a little more difficult to do there under state law.

Some Iowa lawmakers, mostly Republicans, attempted last year to launch a constitutional amendment to specifically prohibit same-sex marriage.

Such a change would require approval in consecutive legislative sessions and a public vote, which means a ban would could not be put in place until at least 2012 unless lawmakers take up the issue in the next few weeks.

“If you’ll remember when we proposed the Iowa marriage amendment, the Democrats’ excuse for not taking it up was that it was in the hands of the Iowa Supreme Court,” Senate Republican leader Paul McKinley of Chariton said Friday. “It was implied that should they find against traditional marriage, that the Legislature would handle that. I would certainly hope they’ll keep their promise.”

Democrats run the House and Senate in Iowa, and could conceivably bottle this up in their respective Judiciary Committees. Even if they didn't, same-sex marriage will be the law of the land for a minimum of three years in Iowa.

Change happens slowly...

...I should add that the Vermont state House voted to allow gay marriage by a 95-52 count. The Republican governor Jim Douglas is expected to veto, but activists feel they have a shot to override it.

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