Friday, April 3, 2009

Court Unanimously Rules Same-Sex Marriage OK - Des Moines News Story - KCCI Des Moines


Court Unanimously Rules Same-Sex Marriage OK - Des Moines News Story - KCCI Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Supreme Court announced its ruling in a landmark same-sex marriage case Friday morning.

The court's written ruling was to be issued on the Iowa Supreme Court's Web site, but traffic to the site crashed the server and took down the Web site.

The justices ruled unanimously in favor of six same-sex couples who sought to get marriage licenses, but were denied. The 69 page ruling means same-sex couples in Iowa can now get married under state law.

The court was reviewing a lower court's ruling that overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriages.

Reaction To Ruling

Same-sex couples who filed the lawsuit are in Des Moines and plan a 9:15 a.m. news conference at the Hotel Fort Des Moines.

One Iowa, a group supporting same-sex marriage is also planning four rallies across Iowa on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Iowa City and Davenport. In Des Moines, the rally will be held at Gateway Park at Grand Avenue and 13th Street.

Advocates against same-sex marriage have said they would likely not appeal a ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, if they lose the case. A group gathered outside the court to pray as the ruling was announced.

National Impact

The Iowa case has attracted attention from all across the United States and could have an impact on how other states handle the controversial issue, said advocates on both sides of the issue.

Laws banning same-sex marriage have already been struck down by state courts in Massachusetts, Connecticut and California.

Lawmakers in Vermont passed a same-sex marriage bill on Thursday with enough votes to override a veto by the governor. The bill has already passed both houses of the legislature.

Story Background

The case, Varnum v. Brien, is centered on whether the state’s 10-year-old law defining a "valid" marriage as only “between a male and female” violates the Iowa Constitution’s guarantees of equal treatment and due process.

Six same-sex couples tried to apply for marriage licenses in Polk County and were denied. They argued that Iowa's marriage law goes against the state's Constitution and sued Polk County Recorder and Registrar Timothy Brien in 2005.

Polk County Judge Robert Hanson ruled last year that the law was unconstitutional and then ordered the license be issued. The next day, the judge suspended his ruling. One gay couple did get married.

The case was appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case in December. The justices did not indicate how long it would take to make their written ruling, though the court generally takes at least several months to issue rulings.

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