Friday, April 3, 2009

Yay Iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court struck down the Iowa law that limited marriage to being between a man and a woman.  The court rejected Polk County's argument that gay and lesbian couples are not the same as heterosexual couples because straight couples can procreate.  Instead the court held that the purpose of marriage "is to provide an institutional basis for defining the fundamental relational rights and responsibilities of people in committed relationships."  Since that is the case then legally preventing gays and lesbians in a committed relationship from marrying fails the principle of equal protection.  The court also concluded that "the benefit denied by the marriage statue is so closely correlated with being homosexual as to make it apparent the law is targeted at gay and lesbian people as a class."

According to the Iowa Supreme Court sexual orientation deserves special scrutiny because "gay and lesbian people as a group have long been the victim of purposeful and invidious discrimination as group, there was no evidence that sexual orientation bears any logical relationship" to a person's "ability to perform productively in society." The Iowa court also said that sexual orientation is central to a person's being and that gays and lesbians are not politically powerful enough to overcome the discrimination over sexual orientation.
The court dispatched the arguments made by Polk County with relative ease.  For example, it dismissed the best interests of the child argument by noting that the state allows other "less than optimal parents."  

Iowa's Supreme Court also addressed the religious issue.  It acknowledged that some religious people hold a sincere belief that marriage would undermined by extended marriage rights to gays and lesbians but the court also acknowledged "other equally sincere groups have espused religious views yielding the opposite conclusions."  "These contrasting opinions, the court finds, explains the absence of any religious based rationale to Iowa's same-sex marriage stature." The court is also emphatic that this decision relates only to the civil contract known as civil marriage and "does not prescribe a definition of marriage for religious institutions."

This a complete victory for supporters of same sex marriage.  The decision was unanimous and Justice Mark Cady, who was appointed by Republican Governor Terry Branstad, wrote the opinion.  It is a great day to be in Iowa.

The opinion is here and a summary can be found here.  Follow the celebration at liturgygeek.

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