03
Apr
09

I heart you, Iowa Supreme Court

As you have hopefully heard by now, the Iowa Supreme Court has just voted unanimously that it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the benefits of marriage. Now, for that alone I would love them all very much. But if you go a step further and read the actual judicial briefing (get it here) and you should (it’s actually pretty readable), you will find that in fact, the Iowa Supreme Court is so awesome that should any of them wish to get married (to the partner, same-sex or otherwise, of their choice) I will gladly do the letterpress invites for free.

They are just that awesome.

Here are some especially noteworthy parts (though there are many more. Like I said, read it.) Emphasis added by me.

[on the argument that gays can marry, provided it’s to someone of the opposite sex] Viewed in the complete context of marriage, including intimacy, civil marriage with a person of the opposite sex is as unappealing to a gay or lesbian person as civil marriage with a person of the same sex is to a heterosexual. Thus, the right of a gay or lesbian person under the marriage statute to enter into a civil marriage only with a person of the opposite sex is no right at all. Under such a law, gay or lesbian individuals cannot simultaneously fulfill their deeply felt need for a committed personal relationship, as influenced by their sexual orientation, and gain the civil status and attendant benefits granted by the statute. Instead, a gay or lesbian person can only gain the same rights under the statute as a heterosexual person by negating the very trait that defines gay and lesbian people as a class—their sexual orientation. (p 30-31)

a. Maintaining traditional marriage. First, the County argues the same-sex marriage ban promotes the “integrity of traditional marriage” by “maintaining the historical and traditional marriage norm ([as] one between a man and a woman).” This argument is straightforward and has superficial appeal. A specific tradition sought to be maintained cannot be an important governmental objective for equal protection purposes, however, when the tradition is nothing more than the historical classification currently expressed in the statute being challenged. (p. 52)

On the argument that gay marriage is bad for the children:

We begin with the County’s argument that the goal of the same-sex marriage ban is to ensure children will be raised only in the optimal milieu. In pursuit of this objective, the statutory exclusion of gay and lesbian people is both under-inclusive and over-inclusive. The civil marriage statute is under-inclusive because it does not exclude from marriage other groups of parents—such as child abusers, sexual predators, parents neglecting to provide child support, and violent felons—that are undeniably less than optimal parents. Such under-inclusion tends to demonstrate that the sexual-orientation-based classification is grounded in prejudice or “overbroad generalizations about the different talents, capacities, or preferences” of gay and lesbian people, rather than having a substantial relationship to some important objective. See Virginia, 518 U.S. at 533, 116
S. Ct. at 2275, 135 L. Ed. 2d at 751 (rejecting use of overbroad generalizations to classify). If the marriage statute was truly focused on optimal parenting, many classifications of people would be excluded, not merely gay and lesbian people. (p. 56)

If the statute was truly about the best interest of children, some benefit to children derived from the ban on same-sex civil marriages would be observable. Yet, the germane analysis does not show how the best interests of children of gay and lesbian parents, who are denied an environment supported by the benefits of marriage under the statute, are served by the ban. Likewise, the exclusion of gays and lesbians from marriage does not benefit the interests of those children of heterosexual parents, who are able to enjoy the environment supported by marriage with or without the inclusion of same-sex couples. (p. 59)

On gay marriage being bad for straight marriage:

d. Promoting stability in opposite-sex relationships. A fourth suggested rationale supporting the marriage statute is “promoting stability in opposite sex relationships.” While the institution of civil marriage likely encourages stability in opposite-sex relationships, we must evaluate whether excluding gay and lesbian people from civil marriage encourages stability in opposite- sex relationships. The County offers no reasons that it does, and we can find none. The stability of opposite-sex relationships is an important governmental interest, but the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage is not substantially related to that objective. (p. 60)

They end by pointing out that the elephant in the room is religious objections to same sex marriage, then say that while it’s true that some religions are against it, it is equally true that some are for it, and that as governmental authority, their job is not to get involved in religious debates. But that as a civil contract, disallowing same-sex marriage violates the equal protection clause and as such:

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. (p. 66)

Seriously, Iowa Supreme Court, call me. I’ll even throw in the Save-The-Dates.

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1 Response to “I heart you, Iowa Supreme Court”


  1. 1 vickeycheng
    13 April 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Totally agree!!! Iowa is one of the state that really blow out of my mind! You would’ve think that California will be the one that first legal the gay marriage, but wow… Even better, Vermont also legalized same-sex marriage one week after, which makes me wondering who is the next surprising state that finally legalize gay marriage? moreover, what is the future of New Mexico?


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