Friday, April 3, 2009

Leonard Link: Iowa Supreme Court Rules Unanimously for Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples

Leonard Link: Iowa Supreme Court Rules Unanimously for Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples

In a sweeping unanimous decision, the seven-member Iowa Supreme Court ruled on April 3 in Varnum v. Brien, No. 07-1499, that the state law limiting marriage to different-sex couples violates the equal protection guarantee of the state’s constitution. Additionally, the court held that only equal marriage rights, not some parallel structure like civil unions, can satisfy the constitutional equality requirement, so the appropriate remedy is to affirm the trial court and order the state to treat same-sex couples the same as different sex couples with respect to civil marriage. The Polk County Attorney, John Sarcone, announced that his office would not seek a rehearing, so the court’s decision will take effect under Iowa procedural rules on April 24.

The leaders of both houses of the state legislature, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and House Speaker Pat Murphy, promptly issued a joint statement hailing the decision and congratulating LGBT Iowans on their victory. "Today, we congratulate the thousands of Iowans who now can express their love for each other and have it recognized by our laws," they wrote. This suggests that the legislature is unlikely to engage in an effort to overrule the court by proposing a constitutional amendment, and the Iowa Constitution does not authorize amendments by voter initiative, so this decision will stand.

The ruling in Varnum is a triumph for Lambda Legal, the leading national LGBT public interest law firm that conceived and organized the litigation in collaboration with Iowa LGBT rights groups, and cooperating attorney Dennis W. Johnson of Des Moines, who masterfully argued the case to the court. This is the first time that a state supreme court has unanimously concluded that same-sex couples have an equal right with different-sex couples to marry as a matter of state constitutional law. (Prior same-sex marriage victories have all come from closely divided courts, as have the defeats.)

The named defendant in the case was the Polk County Recorder, who refused to issue marriage licenses to the plaintiff couples. That it was the County attorney’s office rather than the state attorney general that took on the defense of the statute and argued to the court already hints at the attitude of the state government to this case. Governor Chet Culver and the legislative leaders were apparently distancing themselves. In the discussion below, I have sometimes used the words "state" and "county" interchangeably, but it was the county, not the state, that was arguing in defense of the existing statute.

Before explaining the court’s analysis, I can’t refrain – as a New Yorker – from pointing out that this beautifully and clearly written opinion by Justice Mark Cady stands as a strong rebuke to the bizarre plurality opinion produced by Judge Robert Smith of the New York Court of Appeals in the 2006 ruling in Hernandez v. Robles, while building on the important opinions explaining their rulings by California Chief Justice Ronald George and Connecticut Justice Richard N. Palmer. Justice Cady cited and quoted from George and Palmer, but made many important contributions in helping to explain why the court reached its decision.

click link above for full analysis

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

порно рассказы лесби
секс приколы видео ролики
русское порно фото
пизда собчак
дед ебет внучку