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