Monday, April 6, 2009

Iowa Declared a Gay Marriage Mecca

Following a unanimous Iowa Supreme Court ruling finding no compelling reason to deny gay people the right to marry, the State of Iowa has been declared a "gay marriage Mecca" by Congressman Steve King (R).

The Iowa ruling takes effect April 24, 2009. Iowa joins Massachusetts and Connecticut as one of three states in the U.S. that now allow same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is in a legal limbo in California, where voters passed an initiative last fall to overturn a California Supreme Court decision to allow it. Same-sex civil unions are permitted in Vermont, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. Domestic partnership laws are available to same-sex couples in Oregon, Washington, the District of Columbia, Maine, and Maryland.

Congressman King is opposed to same-sex marriage, and wants the Iowa legislature to pass a Marriage Amendment to the Iowa Constitution to reinstate a 1998 definition that marriage is between one man and one woman. He also wants the legislature to enact marriage license residency requirements, apparently fearing that an influx of gay tourists throwing wedding bouquets and rice or birdseed may upset the corn crop.

King further declared, "If judges believe the Iowa legislature should grant same-sex marriage, they should resign from their positions and run for office, not legislate from the bench." But King himself is a member of the U.S. Congress. No word yet on whether he intends to take his own advice and resign to run for the Iowa legislature. In fact, the general thinking has been that he intends to run for Governor against the incumbent Democrat Chet Culver.

Iowa has long exhibited an enlightened contrariness on matters of civil rights, with the Iowa Supreme Court refusing to enforce a contract for slavery in 1839, striking down segregation efforts in 1868 and 1873, and admitting women to the practice of law in 1869. All in keeping with Iowa's motto: "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain."

The six Iowa couples who brought the lawsuit include a nurse, business manager, insurance analyst, bank agent, stay-at-home parent, church organist and piano teacher, museum director, federal employee, social worker, teacher, and two retired teachers.

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