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Iowa Court: Marry Same-Sex Couples

from Lambda Legal

Iowa Court Issues Decision in Lambda Legal’s Historic Lawsuit: Same-Sex Couples Must Be Allowed to Marry

‘This decision brings to life the Iowa Constitution’s promise of equality for same-sex couples and their families in Iowa.’

A 63 page decision issued today by the Iowa District Court for Polk County said that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry based on the Iowa Constitution’s guarantee of equal treatment under the law. The case was filed by Lambda Legal on behalf of six same-sex couples and their families in Iowa.

“This decision brings to life the Iowa Constitution’s promise of equality for same-sex couples and their families in Iowa,” said Camilla Taylor, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago.

“This is a significant step forward in recognizing the constitutional rights of all Iowans, and it’s an amazing day for same-sex couples and their families all across Iowa,” said Dennis Johnson of Dorsey and Whitney, co-counsel for the Plaintiffs with Lambda Legal.

In his decision, Judge Robert B. Hanson said, “Couples, such as Plaintiffs, who are otherwise qualified to marry one another may not be denied licenses to marry or certificates of marriage or in any other way prevented from entering into a civil marriage pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 595 by reason of the fact that both persons compromising such a couple are of the same sex.”

In December 2005, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit with the Polk County Court on behalf of six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Iowa, arguing that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates the equal protection and due process guarantees in the Iowa Constitution, and prevents these couples from taking care of each other and their children. Today’s decision comes after a hearing in May of this year where both sides made arguments before the court.

The plaintiffs in this case include: Kate, 34, and Trish Varnum, 42, of Cedar Rapids, who have been in a committed relationship for nearly seven years. In addition to the Varnums are David Twombley, 66, and Larry Hoch, 65, of Urbandale, both retired teachers who have been in a committed relationship for over six years; Dawn and Jen BarbouRoske, 39 and 37 respectively, of Iowa City, who have been together for more than 17 years and their two children, McKinley, 9, and Breeanna, 5; Ingrid Olson, 29, and Reva Evans, 33, of Council Bluffs, who have been together for nearly 10 years and their son, Jamison, 1; Jason Morgan, 37, and Chuck Swaggerty, 35, of Sioux City, who have been together for 10 years; and Bill Musser, 49, and Otter Dreaming, 50, of Decorah, who have been together for over six years.

Camilla Taylor and Kenneth Upton Jr., Senior Staff Attorneys at Lambda Legal are handling the case. They are joined by former Iowa Solicitor General Dennis Johnson of Dorsey and Whitney in Des Moines.

The case is Varnum v. Brien.

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Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

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