Friday, April 3, 2009

Iowa Supreme Court Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban

The Iowa Supreme Court has invalidated a state law that prohibits same-sex marriage. The highest courts in Massachusetts, California, Hawaii, Iowa, and Connecticut have all struck down state laws banning same-sex marriage. Voters in Hawaii (1998) and California (2008) reversed their state courts' rulings by constitutional amendment.

This week, the Vermont House of Representatives joined the state Senate and passed a measure legalizing same-sex marriage. Governor Jim Douglas, however, has threatened to veto the measure. The New Hampshire House of Representatives also recently passed a bill permitting same-sex marriage.

Presently, the Iowa Supreme Court's website is overrun with hits, which has made it virtually impossible to download the ruling. Stay tuned for more information on the specific content of the decision.

Responding to the difficulty accessing the Iowa Supreme Court webpage, Politico.Com has posted the ruling.

Here are some highlights from the decision:

* The court held that the state's prohibition of same-sex marriage discriminates on the basis of "sexual orientation."

* The court applied "intermediate scrutiny" -- the second-highest standard the court could have used -- to determine whether the state had a justifiable reason for prohibiting same-sex marriage.

* The court rejected all of the state's asserted interests for denying same-sex marriage. These interests include: preserving the "tradition" of opposite-sex marriage, ensuring that children are raised in optimal settings, promoting procreation, protecting the stability of opposite-sex marriages, and preserving resources the state gives to married couples.

* With respect to the child-rearing argument, the court noted that state law does not deny marriage to "child abusers, sexual predators, parents neglecting to provide child support, and violent felons—that are undeniably less than optimal parents." [Note: The Supreme Court has held that states cannot deny marriage to persons who neglect to pay "child support."]

* Although the state did not argue that it bans same-sex marriage to promote religious freedom, the court soundly rejected arguments which claim that the legalization of same-sex marriage impairs the free exercise of religion:

State government can have no religious views, either directly or indirectly, expressed through its legislation. . . .This proposition is the essence of the separation of church and state.

As a result, civil marriage must be judged under our constitutional standards of equal protection and not under religious doctrines or the religious views of individuals. . . .

In the final analysis, we give respect to the views of all Iowans on the issue of same-sex marriage—religious or otherwise—by giving respect to our constitutional principles. These principles require that the state recognize both opposite-sex and same-sex civil marriage. Religious doctrine and views contrary to this principle of law are unaffected, and people can continue to associate with the religion that best reflects their views. A religious denomination can still define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and a marriage ceremony performed by a minister, priest, rabbi, or other person ordained or designated as a leader of the person’s religious faith does not lose its meaning as a sacrament or other religious institution. The sanctity of all religious marriages celebrated in the future will have the same meaning as those celebrated in the past. The only difference is civil marriage will now take on a new meaning that reflects a more complete understanding of equal protection of the law. This result is what our constitution requires.
I concur! Although I welcome arguments on the role of religion in government (I absolutely reject the idea, but I will entertain arguments), I refuse to debate the issue on factually inaccurate grounds. Many opponents of same-sex marriage argue that redefining marriage will force religious organizations to perform marriages that they morally oppose. As the Iowa Supreme Court finds, this is patently untrue.

Related Reading on Dissenting Justice: Utterly Empty Rhetoric: Some Conservatives Argue That the Iowa Supreme Court Engaged in "Judicial Activism"


Infidel753 said...

Wow, three more states and one more country (Sweden) on the brink.....the dam is crumbling.....good news!

Anonymous said...

This is awesome!

Rainfish2000 said...

From Our Commander & Chief Hypocrite …

Twelve years ago Obama answered a questionnaire regarding his political positions when running for state office in Illinois. On the questionnaire, Obama emphatically stated his full support for GLBT marriage for GLBT Americans and said what he would do in regard to other civil rights legislation of interest to the GLBT community.

Check out my blog at: rainfish(dot)blogspot(dot)com

Family Fairness said...

The use of intermediate scrutiny I thought was odd. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't either rational basis or strict scrutiny been applied in any case dealing with same-sex marriage so far? I understand the opinion to mean that the justices felt strict scrutiny was unnecessary as the law fails even the lower standard, but do you think the justices would have applied (or will apply if another discriminatory LGBT bill is under review) strict scrutiny if intermediate was not enough?

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