An Iowa Supreme Court ruling that could change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples is likely to be issued Friday morning.
The case, Varnum vs. Brien, involves six same-sex Iowa couples who sued Polk County Recorder Timothy Brien in 2005 after his office denied them marriage licenses. Polk County District Judge Robert Hanson sided with the couples last year but then suspended his decision pending a high court ruling.
The case could have consequences outside the state’s borders. Iowa could become the first Midwestern state, and the fourth in the nation, to allow same-sex marriage if the court sides with the gay couples.
A ruling that favors the county would reinforce Iowa’s decade-old marriage law, which social conservatives say is critical to preserving traditional families. Legal experts say such a decision would echo across the country and strengthen the gay rights movement.
But the justices could also throw the issue to the Legisature, which is already embroiled in high-profile fiscal issues as the clock ticks toward adjournment. Or the high court could decide that the Polk County lawsuit should proceed to trial. The decision could include further delays, or produce a results that neither side will be completely happy with.
Openly gay state Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, said he doubts lawmakers would take action on gay marriage “in the final, waning days of the session, because there’s so many other issues involving the budget and taxes.”
“But that would be a decision for the leaders to make,” he said.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Looks like the Hawkeye State is next in line to tackle the same-sex marriage question tomorrow. If the ruling favors gay marriage, then Iowa would join Massachussetts and Connecticut as states where same-sex couples can wed.The Des Moines Register reports:
If you want more details, I recommend a thorough read of the Register's piece - it gives a great scope and context to how the same-sex marriage debate has been handled in Iowa. They're a little off in how they report California's history with the issue - I wouldn't say that California allowed it until voters banned gay marriage so much as that Californians reinstated the law they passed that was overturned by a 4-3 court decision - but, hey, that's just me.
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 2:40 PM