Iowa court rules that marriage licenses must be issued to same-sex couples

Ok, since several posts end up being about same-sex marriage, here is a way to do it on topic. I am not going to get into it much, but have at it (without name-calling or questioning motives).

By now, most folks know, an Iowa District Court judge ruled that marriage licenses must be issued to same-sex couples and of course we’re off to the Iowa Supreme Court. Eventually, we will all be before the U.S. Supreme Court so arguments aside, that is where the final say will occur.

The case was Varnum v. Brien. Click the link to read the opinion.

49 thoughts on “Iowa court rules that marriage licenses must be issued to same-sex couples”

  1. Jag –

    I’m also curious to ask – and I’ll understand if you don’t want to answer this question – are you and your spouse planning on bringing any children into the marriage?

  2. I had my “legal” marriage in Canada, and a religious one in my home church that was a more formal one where friends and family came, we had a reception, etc…

    So the ceremony was both civil (in Canada) and religious (home). The legal component will be recognized by so many countries around the world (heck, even South Africa), but the spiritual one is the one we hold closest in our hearts.

    No problem about the questions…

  3. Jag,

    I’m sorry to keep asking you questions – but did you say you were married in Canada? Was it a religious or civil ceremony? – just curious πŸ™‚

  4. Jayhuck –

    Thank you for your kind words. I really related to this ” as someone who grew up in a very religiously conservative community and family, I can empathize with the kind of treatment that you have received from some of your family members.”

    Amen. I grew up in a very conservative church with a very conservative family and rural community. There was no diversity in my area – not in race, religion, and especially not in orientation. I even went to a christian undergraduate college.

    Truth is, I have always held my faith close to me…and there comes a time when reconciling your faith and who you are doesn’t have to be an “either/or” debate…it took me a while to realize that you can have both. It was the only way I knew that I would have a happy fulfilling life. Everyone is different, however, and I know that even though this was my resolution, it might not be the same for everyone.

    I wish you well on your continued journey..and I hope that whatever direction you venture that you find absolute joy. Everyone deserves at least that.

  5. Jag,

    I forgot to mention just how much I agree with your statement that it is all in how you carry yourself. That is probably the most important thing – and you, from the little I know of you, seem to carry yourself well – at least on this blog πŸ™‚

  6. Jag,

    It did – And as someone who grew up in a very religiously conservative community and family, I can empathize with the kind of treatment that you have received from some of your family members. I’m trying very hard not to jump on a soapbox here, but I’ve expressed this view in many different ways on many different threads here – that being that religion can at once be a very beautiful and inspiring kind of thing, and it can also unintentionally foster all kinds of darkness, bigotry and hatred – We see that easily in Islam but we sometimes fail to notice it when it happens in Christianity –

    ANYWAY – trying to pull myself back into focus here πŸ™‚ – I am happy to hear that your marriage has been received well by many, and am very sorry that some in your family fail to even recognize the marriage. That, to me, is the height of rudeness. Its one thing to disagree, its another thing to deny!

  7. Jayhuck –

    I have been open and “out” for well over 10 years…and so the marriage has been well-received by those that know me. My friends run the spectrum…from fisherman in alaska, ministers, to academics, and I’m very open, even at work. I have “spousal benefits” at my workplace for my wife, etc.

    I think that most of my friends are very liberal in their beliefs, and the ones that are more conservative seem to view me as the “exception”…that “not all gay people are like that.” For some it has changed their thinking on what a “gay” person is, others not. It’s interesting. I live a very quiet, normal, conservative life that worries more about the next energy bill or getting in my daily workout than anything else.

    With others such as strangers, I find myself correcting often. If someone asks if I am married, I simply say “yes.” Most heterosexuals don’t say they are “married to a man,” so I don’t either. However, when they ask what my husband does, etc…I correct them by saying “my wife.” They look puzzled for a moment, and then continue. Again, I suppose I am not the “stereotype.” I’m a feminine, small-framed, long-haired woman who is well put together and I suppose fairly indistinguishable from my heterosexual peers. I don’t have a pride flag on my briefcase or anything.

    Take into account Jayhuck, that I also live in a very open area where it is not uncommon to see same-sex couples holding hands, etc. So, people don’t bat an eye when my wife and I walk to morning coffee and a pastry and sit close, laugh and share a kiss having breakfast. We support local businesses and are as well known as any other people in the community. We’re not uncommon in our area.

    The biggest difficulty has been with family, and the recognition as equals there. Most of our family came and shared in the wedding, but there were some who would not attend, act like it didn’t happen, and still refer to me as “single.” They even want us to stay in different guest rooms when coming over (“because to us you are not really married”)!

    I still send them emails, pictures, etc…and go about my business. The family that did not attend were most appalled that my wedding happened in a church…funny, because that was something that brought us both the most joy – that it could happen there with such blessing and support.

    I suppose some of it is just how you carry yourself. I don’t feel or act like my relationship is any different than anyone elses…and that’s how I present it. If someone is talking about their family or husband, I’ll certainly add my own experiences and funny tales.

    I hope this answered your question.

  8. Jag,

    I have another question for you – being, possibly, the only gay married person on this blog – or maybe even the only married one period – how has your marriage been received by your friends and even the people you meet whom you’ve chosen to share this news with?

  9. I do have to admit to a secret agenda though. I’m going after a ‘mention’ in Volume II. (I have a producer friend who is compelled to measure candidates by ‘mentions’ and ‘awards’. But me, I just like to be mentioned.) πŸ™‚

  10. Eddy –

    Wow, usually I don’t even get a Pavarotti background…I never got to hear him live.

    Thanks for your comments…

  11. JAG–

    As timing would have it, I was reading your love story with the voice of Pavarotti singing on the news. I’m sure it would have moved me even without the audio enhancement! Having the e-mails bound! What a priceless treasure!

  12. Jayhuck –

    We haven’t been married for that long, compared to many I suppose – but I am fairly young…in my early/mid 30s.

    Some background? We met while both doing anonymous online journaling, stumbled across each other’s journal, and began writing emails back and forth (she was doing some work in Cairo – she is an american who speaks arabic) for months getting to know each other as friends. When we had met in person, it was instant chemistry. The deep soulmate connection we had felt over the computer had expanded into other arenas, and we were just a perfect fit. We had known nothing about each others appearance or line of work, but just spent months “talking” about everything from our beliefs to current events. For our first anniversary, she had our emailed writings bound and printed – all 400 pages, singled spaced, front to back. We both knew from the start it was something special.

    We were both Christians, and wanted to make a commitment…and we went through a lot of conversation as to “how” to do this in the society we live in. We wanted to do this right, under God and between each other. We went through an engagement period after she moved back to the states (to be with an ill brother), and were married about 6 months or so after our engagement.

    Marriage has been a type of stability that I hadn’t known. Not because my relationships were unstable, they weren’t…it’s just a wonderful sense of “ahh,” that this part of my life is settled. Making that type of commitment legally (in canada), as well as in our home church, in front of family and friends was important. I had the opportunity to meet her entire family – even extended ones who flew in from all around the world. It was a real coming together of families, of joining families and the realization that we were joining lives.

    I haven’t regretted one moment of it. It costs a bundle (as I am sure all marriages do), but I am so proud to wear the ring I was given on that day. Marriage has provided a sense of family, in part, by extending my own through the ritual of marriage and the very sacred vows said to each other in front of others, and in front of God in a church before our minister.

    The wedding also was also an interesting demonstration to others…uncles who had reservations left the ceremony saying “so this is what the big fuss is about?” Yeah…I was sorry to disappoint him…no cabbanna boys in g-strings serving alcohol…it was a very conservative and traditional wedding. We both had dresses made of matching silk but different design, the was a multi-course dinner to follow at a small inn on the river, etc…

    I think it served a dual purpose…we got to meet some family we hadn’t yet met and the family we both knew well became closer to us and to each other. The family I knew well (her brothers, etc..) and that she knew well of me (sister) both interacted, joked, and helped us prepare for the event. The email even now…my sibling and her family…it’s great. There is a real sense of community.

    Again, I don’t want to change anyone else’s religion or practices. But we asked that everyone who attended forgo gifts in lieu of a financial gift to the church who supported us. They made a great deal of money that day, and deserved it. We didn’t want anything material, and frankly don’t need it…the gift of allowing us to have a ceremony in the place of worship that we loved so dearly, was the most amazing day of our lives.

    At this time, even though approached, we’ve opted not to pursue a lawsuit against the state to recognize our legal marriage in Canada. We’re quiet people, happy and humble people who’d rather not be targets…but I cannot say that it will always be that way. There are things that are frustrating all the time that others take for granted – family gym memberships, etc…

    I hope I answered your question jayhuck, thank you for asking it.

  13. Jag,

    I’m just curious – and I’ll understand if you don’t want to share – but how long have you and your same-sex spouse been married? Do you feel as if marriage has benefited your relationship? I’m just anxious to get more details

  14. Lynn David–

    I almost got into basketball in the early 70’s but then they went with those long shorts.

  15. Eddy –

    “All that said, I’d love to sit at that middle table with you. I think we’d get a good taste of the dream.”

    Next time I head on over to a rally, I’ll plunk down a picnic lunch on a small table and give you a call. I’m sure we’d have a great chat….and maybe see some traffic from curious venturers.

    Lynn David –

    You crack me up….your description of basketball was, well, so very athletic – it’s a miracle everyone doesn’t love sports.

  16. Eddy…. extremely athletic guys running around in shorts, going one-on-one to the hole, all that grunting? You get the idea…. I love basketball, but then I’m from Indiana where basketball is almost god – Hoosier hysteria. It used to be said that an Indiana high school was a basketball stadium with some small rooms around it where some classes might be taught. And every Friday night in the fall and winter the whole town would go to worship.

    Nights in the summer here there wasn’t much except radio and baseball. I would listen to the Reds on our local radio station, but my best friend would listen to the Cardinals on a station from a town across the river in Illinois. I really liked my best friend, so I started listening to the other station and the Cardinals. Even then I wanted to please another man.

    Mark Spitz was from Indiana (IU) and Kurt Thomas helped Indiana State (ISU) to capture their first NCAA title in gymnastics, so, yeah…

  17. JAG–

    I love your ‘table in the middle’ idea. I also identify with the heart’s cry behind it…that dream of a place where we could all come together as brothers and sisters with no agendas. I’ve dreamed of it for 30 years and, so far, this blog space is the closest I’ve come to realizing the dream. Yeah, I’m afraid it’s still a long ways off.

    All that said, I’d love to sit at that middle table with you. I think we’d get a good taste of the dream.


    I couldn’t pass by the East Coast sports thing. I have 6 brothers and I’m from South Central PA. New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington D.C. were all within a few hours drive. BUT I absolutely HATED sports. I never understood them. I’d watch my brothers ‘hate’ each other because their teams were playing each other. I’d suffer through games on the tv all day and into the evening most weekends. I’d marvel that one brother–who could barely pass at school–could roll off stats on all of the teams and a good many players.

    Winter was the worst…football, hockey, basketball. Always something to take precedence over Band Stand!

    (It seems the only sports I could get into were swimming/diving {Mark Spitz}, ice skating and gymnastics. ‘Twas always a bit of an anxiety struggle to watch these in front of my brothers. Someday–a book!

  18. Ann –

    Great to see you here.

    “why is the Christian religion singled out so much in conversation when it comes to this subject when other religions and cultures have the same thoughts?”

    This is totally my opinion, but the reason I think the Christian faith is singled out so much is that:

    1. In America, Christians tend to be affiliated with the groups that are most against same-sex rights, and lobby against these actively in letter writing, blogging, campaigning, etc..

    2. Because we are in America, we don’t seem to (sadly) focus on anyone but ourselves) – so while many people have died for being gay in Iran (clearly at the hands of those who are not christian-affiliated), no one pays attention.

    3. They are the predominant religion in America, and everyone wants a piece of defining it – both conservatives and liberals…and because it is linked with being inherently American. The “outsiders” are seen as muslim, hindu, etc…unfortunately.

    “If I am not a Christian or I have no religion, would I be excluded?”

    I thought this was a great question, because frankly, we don’t hear much from those groups at all. To be honest, I’m not sure what they think – but they seem as varied as Christians on their individual stances. For example, we had two married Hindu friends at our wedding. They are very strict Hindu in diet, etc..and I’m fairly certain that same-sex marriage isn’t celebrated, but they were there and happy to come.

    I think everyone has a place at the table of discussion. However, if you are not a christian or have no religion, I think people are likely to dismiss it. Maybe because it doesn’t reinforce the “us against them” fight Americans seem to have over this issue…I’m not sure. We tend to like a good brawl in America and think bridge-building is “boring.” Look at the local news for an example.

    You and me talking about this thoughfully certainly wouldn’t garner the ratings of a good Shirley Phelps rant – who is hardly the example of Christianity – or some man who gay and hates monogamy who thinks marriage should be nonexistent. Both of those trump logical discussion every time. Ratings rule what we see,and Ann – although I think you’re great – I don’t think we’re the stuff of ratings.

    Also, and more controversial, I’m not sure society truly wants to bridge the gaps between us, because doing so ruins the hierarchy a bit. and threatens a lot of what people know. For example, it would be a lot if same-sex marriage were passed, and you have to ask a man who is married if he is married to a man or a woman. We want to think the married gay man would somehow be different than us. Scary for some, maybe he’s just like you.

  19. A christian organization would likely be a great place to start a same-sex married speakers bureau.

    Hi Jag,

    Again, I want to say how much I admire your way of thinking when it comes to open-minded, intelligent communication. All the ideas you just put forth are worth every minute of consideration. Here is my one question for right now though – why is the Christian religion singled out so much in conversation when it comes to this subject when other religions and cultures have the same thoughts? If I am not a Christian or I have no religion, would I be excluded?

  20. Jayhuck –

    Thanks again for your congratulations! You stated:

    “If we could spend more times focusing on how gay people and gay couples are similar to straight couples, and how they often want the same things (a spouse, children, family, etc…) instead of trying to create division by focusing on the differences, the environment would be much better for all groups involved.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Not talking to each other certainly does not foster greater understanding. We are left to “guessing” and drawing assumptions about the other “camp.” There is really only a few differences – the anatomy of my partner being the one everyone seems to focus on. How odd that is to me – she has a great body, but gheesh.

    A funny moment? I was holding my wife’s hand walking down the street on our anniversary, window shopping…and these teenage boys seemed to be staring at us…I asked my partner why, and she said “we’re gay,” to which I said “oh….yeah.” I foget all the time that I’m supposedly the “different” one. I live in such an open community, that when we leave, I often forget my community doesn’t travel around with me.

    “I think it would be great if some gay married couples could have some sort of speaker’s bureau, where they spoke to and took questions from anti-gay-marriage advocates”

    This is very interesting to me – I’d sign up in a heartbeat. There is so much misinformation from both sides (“gays want to destroy marriage,” are not monogamous, etc…and that christians hate gays, etc..) That maybe it would be a way of dispelling some of these myths. Yes, I’m sure some gay people are not interested in marriage, don’t want to be monogamous, and that there are some Christians who do hate gay people…but these are the terrible stereotypes that keep us segregated. A christian organization would likely be a great place to start a same-sex married speakers bureau.

    In truth, I’m always open to questions about things, and I hope that you all will always feel free to use me as a resource. I certainly have tried (and will continue) to use you all as a resource for learning more about the perspectives and thoughts of the ex-gay community, people all across the continuum of change, and people of all identities.

    What are you thoughts about what needs to happen for people to simply “talk” more rather than accusatory condemning statements on both sides?

    Maybe at the next anti-gay marriage rally I find, I’ll set up camp in the middle. Agreeing politically with the notion of supporting equal marriage, but certainly agreeing with the other side in the importance of the institution of marriage and having that remain stable for the sake of children and society as a whole.

  21. Jayhuck wrote: “Are you saying Timothy has been hitting home-runs?

    Heeheee…. It was a remembrance of what my dad used to say about Babe Ruth’s home runs. That a number of them were bouncers over the fence, what is today a ground-rule double. Not sure if it was true or not, dad never did like the Yankees, we were always either Reds, Cubs or Cardinals fans. We live about equi-distant from either city and our local radio stations kept flip-flopping between which teams it followed. πŸ™‚

  22. Personally, I think it makes a big difference when you actually put a face to gay marriage – or at least an online persona πŸ˜‰ That’s why I think it is so nice to have Jag here. If we could spend more times focusing on how gay people and gay couples are similar to straight couples, and how they often want the same things (a spouse, children, family, etc…) instead of trying to create division by focusing on the differences, the environment would be much better for all groups involved. I think it would be great if some gay married couples could have some sort of speaker’s bureau, where they spoke to and took questions from anti-gay-marriage advocates

  23. But most of the posts of Anonymous have only been inside-the-parkers under the old rules. The posts of Timothy Kincaid have all been hit out of play!

  24. Who knew we could all get “off-topic” on a gay marriage thread???? πŸ™‚ Congrats again on your marriage Jag πŸ˜‰

  25. Warren

    Blakeslee – I am still chuckling over your comment about off-topic.

    This might be a misguided idea but what if you had two or three eternal chat threads covering some very broad subtopics? It might keep most of the off topic posts (which I sadly must admit are mine from time to time) out of your regular blog threads.

  26. I never did get my free steak knives after my 200th post. Does he get a blender or a box of steaks? And when does your ‘rewards department’ get back from vacation? πŸ™‚

  27. And speaking of records that they said couldn’t be broken…

    Recently, Timothy Kincaid quietly moved past the retired Michael Bussee on the all time commenting list and is now nearing the top spot held by the legendary Anonymous. Pundits once said no one would ever again hit 600 comments but Kincaid has smashed those predictions and will soon pass 621.

    Word is that Anonymous is not following Kincaid’s relentless march toward the magic 622 and will not be present when Kincaid breaks through the old mark. Through his/her spokesperson Unknown, Anonymous wishes Kincaid the best but has moved on to other pursuits and is not expected to challenge Kincaid’s record.

    Kincaid will not be able to rest on his laurels with the new generation of commenters tearing up the marks for rookies. The likes of Mary, jayhuck, jag and Eddy may threaten Kincaid’s dominance of the record book in the future. And there is speculation that Bussee might come out of retirement. If that happens, it could be a barnburner.

  28. Jayhuck –

    Thanks! I thought it would add to the diversity of the group and keep it interesting…a married, christian female’s perspective who happens to be married to another woman.

    I appreciate your congrats and look forward to future conversations where we might inform each other.

  29. Mary

    Let me join you in being off topic for a second.

    Yeah Toxo is BAD news for pregnant women and kids. If you’ve got kids keep them away from outdoor cat poop.

    Toxoplasma and Schizophrenia

    The stereotype of the crazy, old cat lady actually makes some scientific sense. 😎

  30. Full disclaimer: starting off topic…

    What a week! A blast from the gay culture past with news of a senator pleading guilty to anonymous restroom cruising. Then speed forward to gay culture present/future with a marriage.

    Personally, I am concerned for the apparently one gay couple who managed to get married in Iowa yesterday. Will it be legally recognized? How vigorously will the self-proclaimed “defenders of marriage” try to strip them of their marriage license?

    Although it was “just” in our local (UCC) church, I am glad that my husband and I had our wedding back in 2000 before it all became so political.

  31. Congratulations on your marriage Jag – that is wonderful!!! It would be nice to have more married gay people on here to talk to about this issue.

  32. Unfortunately, it is not the supporters of gay marriage that will bring this to the Supreme Court – it has already ben appealled by those who oppose it and marriages have stopped.

  33. If advocates of same-sex marriage are wise, they won’t bring this to the newly conservative supreme court until there is more public support.

    Unfortunately, this isn’t like 1967 when the court operated more independently of public opinion… interracial marriage was no longer prohibited…and statistics show that the population was not in favor of overturning these laws.

    I think this will be a legal mess for a while – this case in particular. I foresee anyone who was married having their marriage revoked.

    That’s why I did mine legally in Canada…it’s accepted in many countries around the world (and soon the EU), as well as MA, it does count as a civil union in the states that offer it, and it cannot be revoked.

    There was an attorney who wanted to represent us pro bono to challenge the laws in our state – but given the current climate, it would go nowhere. I do expect that we will take him up on the offer once it seems there is more of a push.

    In the next few years, I predict the following that will ultimately result in marriage rights:

    – the next president will repeal DADT – England has some of their military actually marching in pride parades…and it seems to change some attitudes once a governmental agency is no longer discriminatory.

    – CT will have marriage rights passed through the legislature, just as their civil unions were.

    We’ll see a movement…and it’s going to have partial acceptance until the Supremes finally get the case and it’s inevitable. It is already becoming more “taboo” to say gay slurs…and that begins the process of humanizing…

    I’m with Mary on this…I can’t wait to see what happens.

  34. All women are tested for taxoplasmosis before getting pregnant. It is what causes cat scratch fever – left untreated in the human it eventually goes to the brain causing encephalitas (sp?) and then death. No wonder it is suspected in mental disorders of children.

    How’s that for staying off topic. I’m so proud of myself!

  35. The Past: Society believed that SSA was some sort of Freudian syndrome. Gay marriage was unthinkable.

    The Present: Large portions of the population believe that SSA is genetic. Thus, gay marriage is rational to most people.

    The Future: ?

    Gay marriage isn’t about the law, its about mankind’s general understanding of SSA. As science advances, our opinions and laws will evolve with it. This process is never over.

  36. Lynn David

    I’ve read your posts. Being thrown out of respectable places should be easy for you by now. 😎

  37. LOL – Sorry, I have to laugh and smile at Warren’s opening comment – which I enjoyed.

    I agree that this will eventually end up before the U.S. supreme court, but who knows when that will be. Personally, and I’m sure it will come as a surprise to no one, I’m elated to see this happening in Iowa. I may be wrong about this, but I really think our supreme court will have the final word only if they vote in favor of gay marriage. I say this only because I see the tide turning towards gay marriage – it will be a long and hard-fought haul, but I do think gay marriage will be legalized. Should the Supreme Court vote down gay marriage, I really believe that the tide of support will eventually see that overturned. This really is just my opinion though

    Anyway – overall – I’m happy to see justice and equality winning out in this instance.

  38. Because I love to post in 3s…

    What I mean to say on B was that the whole argument is moot. Whether gays get full, partial or even no marriage rights it doesn’t matter because in that scenario very few people (if any) will be gay.

  39. This is going to work out one of two ways:

    A) Scientists discover that SSA is caused by the normal action of heritable genes

    Result: No force on Earth is going to stop gay people from marrying with the same rights that hetero couples enjoy.

    B) Scientists discover that SSA is caused by some sort of prenatal environmental exposure

    Result: Scientists either purposely or more likely accidentally stop SSA in future generations with any one of the dozens of different vaccines that are headed our way. Google and you will be amazed. Everything from Epstein Barr to Acne is living on borrowed time.

    Fun fact: Scientists believe that 15% of Schizophrenia cases could be caused by flu exposure during the first half of pregnancy. No wonder that a universal flu vaccine is being developed. Up to another third of cases might be caused by prenatal exposure to Toxoplasma Gondi.

  40. I’m just speculating here, but:

    I think from a legal perspective, states that don’t want to recognize marriages between people of the same sex would be better off if they hadn’t passed DOMA laws.

    If they simply said “we’ve always only recognized men and women for the following societal reasons…” they have a decent case.

    But by passing a law to say “see these gay folk, they don’t get marriage” and in debating the bill that way they estabish the legal position that they have identified a class of people for the specific purpose of denying them rights. And because the debates of all these DOMA’s included language that made it clear that the intent of the legislators was to restrict gay folk, a careful judge (strict constructionist or not) really has to address the class issue.

    This is precisely why Colorado’s amendment 2 was struck down.

    [Amendment 2] is at once too narrow and too broad. It identifies persons by a single trait and then denies them protection across the board. The resulting disqualification of a class of persons from the right to seek specific protection from the law is unprecedented in our jurisprudence.

    And during Lawrence v. Texas, O’Connor argued that

    Moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate governmental interest under the Equal Protection Clause because legal classifications must not be “drawn for the purpose of disadvantaging the group burdened by the law.”

    In drawing legal classifications, ie. homosexuals per se, and disadvantaging them, the anti-gay folk may have shot themselves in the foot, long-run. Perhaps if Iowa had not passed an anti-gay marriage ban to be overturned, they would not now temporarily have legal (but stayed) gay marriage.

  41. And a couple has already been married. Now it gets tested in a higer court. Watch and see.

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