Iowa Wimps Out on Marriage Equality… for Now

Gay marriage ruling put on hold –

The Polk County Recorder’s office stopped accepting marriage license applications from same-sex couples around 11:30 a.m. today.

The move came shortly after Polk County Judge Robert Hanson agreed to suspend his Thursday ruling that overturned Iowa’s ban on same-sex marriages pending an appeal by the Polk County Attorney’s Office to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Polk County Recorder Julie Haggerty responded immediately by refusing to accept any more same-sex marriage license applications. County officials said 21 marriage licenses were issued before 11:30, most apparently to same-sex couples.

Haggerty said the same-sex couples likely will receive some sort of letter explaining why their license, which would have become valid next week under a mandatory three-business-day waiting period, now will not be accepted. …

One couple, Tim McQuillan and Sean Fritz, both Iowa State University students, managed to complete the entire process — waiver, license and wedding — before Hanson again closed the door on same-sex nuptials in Iowa.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen there,” Haggerty said. “As far as I’m concerned, they have a valid marriage certificate from the state of Iowa.”

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Didn’t take long… of course, the forces of hate and heterosupremacy never rest from their pursuit to maintain their position atop the legal food chain. But congrats, best wishes and good luck to the happy couple (just-married Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan, pictured above) that got their legal nuptials in under the wire.

A commentary from PlanetOut offers some comfort for those despairing over the Iowa stay:

Why the Iowa ruling is great even if temporary – PlanetOut

The marriage window opened in Polk County, Iowa, for a few hours Friday, until around 11:30, when District Court Judge Robert Hanson stayed his order legalizing same-sex marriage pending an appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.
But the win is sweet nonetheless. Hanson’s opinion laid out one of the strongest arguments in support of marriage equality ever articulated by an American court.

Hanson’s 63-page opinion Thursday held that the denial of marriage violates the due process and equal protection rights of same-sex couples under the state constitution. …

Hanson wrote that marriage was a fundamental right under the state constitution’s due process clause, and as such, its denial triggered the highest level of court scrutiny. He also ruled that Iowa’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage violated the state’s equal protection clause by discriminating on the basis of sex, a determination that also required heightened scrutiny.

Finally, Hanson ruled that the state’s asserted justifications for maintaining a marriage ban did not even pass the lowest standards of court review. Assuming that a state interest in promoting “responsible procreation” was a legitimate purpose, Hanson wrote, the remedy of blocking all gay couples from matrimony bore no rational relationship to the state’s alleged goals. The fact that heterosexual felons, older couples, and couples with no interest in having children were free to marry also undercut the state’s argument.

Granted, some past rulings by lower-level state courts that supported marriage equality have been overturned by higher courts or state legislatures — some prominent examples, Hawaii, Washington state, New York and California. Of course, that is no guarantee that Iowa ultimately will go down the path of exclusion and discrimination.

And Iowa isn’t alone: Connecticut is awaiting a final ruling on a similar lower-court marriage equality case, and in Maryland, a state Supreme Court decision allowing or barring same-sex marriage is expected shortly.


0 responses to “Iowa Wimps Out on Marriage Equality… for Now

  1. well, in so many words….

    It’s about F*****g time!!

    Congrats to all those that made it under the wire before they put a hold on it all, of course….Hopefully bigger issues than who people marry and love get more attention than this ridiculous love ’em, marry ’em, live happily ever after, why is that so hard??

  2. It’s going to be exciting when the Maryland decision is handed down. Hopefully it’ll be soon. And it was great having the Iowa lower court decision. It was a great read his ruling and was very strongly worded and detailed. Seeing as how intelligence is on our side I can’t help but having hope that Maryland will be state number 2!

  3. I’m with you there. But I recall all too well what happened in Hawaii. Court does right thing then stays ruling. Legislature moves in and makes changes that trump the court ruling. I pray that won’t happen in MD, and that the Old Line State will be state number 2. Can’t wait to run down the street shouting, “We’re number two! We’re number two!”