The Iowa Supreme Court just ruled on Varnum vs. Brien this morning. The Court agreed with Judge Robert Hanson’s earlier decision that struck down Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act. You can read the decision here. (Adobe PDF, 306K)
Gay marriage is now legal in Iowa.
What makes Iowa unique is that the state does not require residency to get married. Iowa is now the first state to allow gay marriage that doesn’t have a residency requirement. Iowa law now allows gay people from all around the country to come to Iowa and be legally married, and then return to their own states.
This creates an interesting predicament for their employers and their state governments. Whose law applies? Iowa’s or their own? We have already seen a situation like this play out in Iowa when a lesbian couple sought and was granted a divorce in Iowa, after being legally married elsewhere.
The earliest the Supreme Court’s decision could be overturned is November of 2012. To reverse the court’s decision, Iowans would have to pass a constitutional amendment. In Iowa, that means both the House and Senate have to pass the amendment in two consecutive general assemblies by a simple majority. The amendment then goes on the ballot in the next general election, where it also needs a simple majority to pass.
Republican gubernatorial candidate, Bob Vander Plaats said, “Like hundreds of thousands of Iowans, I respect the rule of law but I am extremely disappointed by the court’s ruling. The Defense of Marriage Act had strong bipartisan support when it was introduced and debated in our legislature. That bipartisan support for traditional marriage between one man and one woman reflected the will of the people then – and reflects the will of the people now. On an issue of this monumental importance to the very foundation of our society, I believe a vote of the people is necessary. I hope the General Assembly will take the required steps to give Iowans a voice is this process on the most basic of issues – and that Governor Culver will take a leadership role to let all Iowans express their opinion.” Vander Plaats made his comments from the Supreme Court building this morning.
State Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley said, “The decision made by the Iowa Supreme Court today to allow gay marriage in Iowa is disappointing on many levels. I believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman and I am confident the majority of Iowans want traditional marriage to be legally recognized in this state. Though the court has made their decision, I believe every Iowan should have a voice on this matter and that is why the Iowa Legislature should immediately act to pass a Constitutional Amendment that protects traditional marriage, keeps it as a sacred bond only between one man and one woman and gives every Iowan a chance to have their say through a vote of the people.”
The Iowa Republican will have more on the Supreme Court’s decision throughout the day.
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