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Iowa Supreme Court Considers Same-Sex Marriage

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in a case that challenges the states’ same-sex marriage ban. If the law is ruled unconstitutional, Iowa will become the third state in the US to permit homosexual couples to marry. Same-sex marriage is currently legal only in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Last month’s passage of Proposition 8 in California invalidated a state Supreme Court ruling that allowed same-sex marriage there.

According to the Iowa Independent, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of six same-sex couples and their children in Iowa in 2005. The lawsuit challenged the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. An Iowa District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in 2007, leading dozens of couples to apply for marriage licenses and one couple to marry before the District Attorney filed an appeal to bring the case before the state Supreme Court.

While the case may not be decided for a few months, gay rights advocates are hopeful that the Iowa Supreme Court will follow the lead of other state courts and declare the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Camilla Taylor, Lamba Legal’s lead counsel on the case, told the Daily News that Iowa has a history of pioneering civil rights: “Iowa was reportedly the first state to permit a woman to practice law as a lawyer, the first state to admit a woman to the bar,” said Taylor. “Iowans are used to national attention, and they are not uncomfortable with a leadership role. Iowa has a proud history of doing the right thing.”

Sources:

Daily News 12/09/08; Iowa Independent 12/04/08, 12/09/08