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Same-sex marriage in Iowa (SSM)

Reactions to the 2007-AUG
court ruling; further developments

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Responses to Judge Hanson's ruling:

bulletDavid Curtis Rethmeier, 29, and Gary Allen Seronko, 51, applied for a marriage license less than two hours after the judge issued his decision. David, listed as "bride" on the form said: "I started to cry because we so badly want to be able to be protected if something happens to one of us." After a three-day approval process, they thought that they would be free to marry. It was not to be so. 1
bulletCounty attorney John Sarcone appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court. He asked and was granted for a stay of the judge's ruling until the appeal is resolved. 1
bulletMinority Leader Christopher Rants (R) said that this ruling proves the need for a state constitutional amendment restricting marriage to one man and one woman. He said: "I can't believe this is happening in Iowa. I guarantee you there will be a vote on this issue come January." 1
bulletSenate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said in a statement: "Today's civil-rights ruling by Judge Robert Hanson is another step in what is expected to be a lengthy legal process. The prudent approach would be for the Legislature to await an expected appeal and subsequent ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court before taking any steps in reaction to this decision." 2
bulletRoger J. Kuhle, an assistant Polk County attorney, argued that the matter is beyond the judge's jurisdiction. 1
bulletAttorney Denny Johnson who represented the couples, said: "Nobody is trying to get any money out of this. They are just trying to get equal rights, and they got them, and it's a big day." He believes that if an appeal is filed, it could take two years before a ruling is delivered.
bulletGov. Chet Culver said in a statement:

"While some Iowans may disagree on this issue, I personally believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I also believe in the rule of law and respect for the judicial process. I have not had the opportunity to review today's opinion from the Polk County District Court. I understand this ruling is one step that is subject to appeal, up to and including the Supreme Court. I will continue to follow this matter closely as it continues through the judicial system before determining whether any additional legislative actions are appropriate or necessary." 2

bulletHouse Minority Leader Christopher Rants (R) said in a statement:

"Judge Hanson's shocking action today has reversed the will of the people of Iowa, the will of the Legislature. Democrats, in trying to appease special interest groups, allowed this to happen with their opposition to a marriage amendment. If Gov. Culver and Legislative Democrats proceed with a special session regarding the date of the Iowa caucus, Democrats need to step up and put this issue to rest by introducing a marriage amendment to Iowa's Constitution. ... "The over-stepping and stunning action taken by this court today proves that work on a Constitutional marriage amendment must begin immediately," 2

bulletRev. Jeff Bradley of the Des Moines Central Assembly of God Church, a conservative Christian group, said:

"I think what's happened today, primarily, is what we have seen is a relatively small group of people with a particular special interest has been successful with one judge to overturn basically the will of the people -- overturn the rule of law in the Legislature. We currently have a defensive marriage act, which proclaims marriage between man and woman. Today, one judge, frankly, took it upon himself, representing a small group of people, to change traditional marriage from man to woman to something else." 2

bulletJames Dobson, founder and chairperson of the fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family Action said:

"Once again, we see an activist judge handing liberal activists what they have not been able to achieve legislatively or at the ballot box: government sanctioning of same-sex marriage. This purely political ruling proves yet again that nothing short of a federal marriage-protection amendment is sufficient to preserve one-man, one-woman marriage in our nation.

"By striking down Iowa's DOMA, Judge Robert Hanson has shown he believes the desires of adults should trump what's best for children. His ruling represents social engineering at its worst." 3

bulletJenny Tyree, associate marriage analyst for Focus on the Family Action said:

"Sadly, little consideration seems to be given to the next generation of children. One judicial decision could change the definition of marriage for every Iowan and deprive more children of either a mother or a father." 3

bulletCarolyn Jenison, executive director of One Iowa, an agency working for marriage equality, said:

"We have been working across the state of Iowa to educate our constituents, our religious leaders, our business leaders, regarding the economic impact, in regards to job recruitment, and things like that and what it can bring to the state of Iowa -- and more importantly -- just protecting all of Iowa citizens. We know this is a first step. We know that. But I think today walking away as positive ruling it really reflects the positive and the rich of history of civil rights that Iowa has had for all its citizens." 2

bulletA One Iowa press release stated:

"A recent poll by the Des Moines Register found that a majority of Iowans support equal rights for same-sex couples in the state, 49% to 38%. Additionally, studies in New Jersey, New Hampshire, California, and other states have shown that equal marriage increases business and tourism revenues, contributing millions in new tax dollars to the state."

" 'This judgment is reflective of Iowa values,' said Jessica Brackett, Director of the Marriage Initiative at One Iowa. 'Iowans believe in fairness and equal rights for all of our citizens'."

"Current Iowa law provides no access for LGBT people to the myriad rights, protections, and responsibilities provided by marriage. One Iowa advocates for equal access to civil marriage, meaning religious marriages would still be left to individual churches to decide." 4

Further developments:

bullet2007-AUG-30: Judge Hanson issues ruling: On AUG-30, Judge Robert Hanson declared unconstitutional the clause in Iowa's marriage law that requires couples to be of opposite sexes.
 
bullet2007-AUG-31: As soon as the courthouse opened, Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan bought a marriage license. Judge Scott Rosenburg agreed to sign an emergency waiver for the gay couple so that they would not have to wait the normal three day interval. At 10 AM, the couple contacted Rev. Mark Stringer of the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, and asked if he could marry them later that day. He agreed to perform the ceremony at noon. Five minutes later, they phoned back and asked to advance the ceremony. Within 15 minutes, they arrived at the church with family, friends and a phalanx of reporters. They were married on the spot, hurried to the courthouse and filed their marriage certificate.

Two hours later,  Judge Hanson issued a stay on his ruling. This suspended the ruling pending an opinion of a higher court. Out of the 20 couples who had obtained marriage licenses, only Fritz and McQuillan were able to marry. Until late 2009-APR, they will remain the only married same-sex couple in Iowa.

Rev. Stringer said: "I’ve lived in Chicago and New York. And it’s really great to say, ‘you’ve got to catch up to Des Moines!’” 6

bullet2007-AUG-31:
bulletBruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for the fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family Action said:

"There seems to be no end to the judicial arrogance being displayed in Iowa this week. Now it appears that judges can not only write the marriage laws, but they can waive any 'inconvenient' laws otherwise required -- one-stop shopping for radical social change." 5

bullet

Tony Perkins, president of the fundamentalist Christian Family Research Council, said:

"I urge Iowans to pass a constitutional amendment protecting marriage, joining the majority of states that have already defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman in their state constitutions. Only state constitutional amendments and ultimately a federal constitutional amendment will ensure that marriage is fully protected." 5

He is, of course, mistaken. Any state or federal constitutional amendment can be repealed.

Social and religious conservatives were unanimously opposed to equal treatment of same-sex couples in marriage. However, none pointed out to their readers the obvious conflict between clauses in the Iowa constitution which guaranteed human rights for all and the marriage law which gave special human rights only to opposite-sex couples.

Many conservative commentators condemned the effect of SSM on children. None commented that children would benefit from the marriage of their parents because they, the children, would no longer be considered illegitimate. Also, they would benefit from all of the state laws and regulations protecting children in a family whose parents are married.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. David Pitt, "Judge Strikes Down Iowa Gay Marriage Ban," Chicago Tribune, 2007-AUG-31, at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/
  2. "Judge Says Gay Marriage In Iowa OK. County Expected To Appeal Ruling," KCCI, Des Moines, 2007-AUG-30, at: http://www.kcci.com/
  3. Jennifer Mesko, "Renegade Judge Strikes Down Iowa Defense of Marriage Act," Citizenlink, 2007-AUG-30, at: http://www.citizenlink.org/
  4. "Polk County District Court Rules for Marriage Equality," One Iowa, 2007-AUG-30, at: http://www.one-iowa.org/
  5. Jennifer Mesko, "A Same-Sex 'Wedding' in the Heartland of America," CitizenLink, 2007-AUG-31, at: http://www.citizenlink.org/
  6. Jane Greer, "UU minister performs Iowa's first same-sex wedding," UU World magazine, 2007-SEP-07, at: http://www.uuworld.org/

Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > Iowa > here

Copyright © 2007 & 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-AUG-30
Latest update: 2008-DEC-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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