The Iowa case

The Iowa Supreme Court has struck down a ban on gay marriage. Here’s the full court opinion.

The “money quote”:

Our responsibility, however, is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time. The framers of the Iowa Constitution knew, as did the drafters of the United States Constitution, that “times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress,” and as our constitution “endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom” and equality.


It is true the marriage statute does not expressly prohibit gay and lesbian persons from marrying; it does, however, require that if they marry, it must be 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.

There was no dissent.

You can learn more about the justices here.

  • Alison

    Wow! And further, the statements you highlighted were eloquent, well-reasoned, and level-headed. The statements show the justices were not just ‘activist judges with an agenda’ as they will no doubt be portrayed.

  • Joel

    I don’t think I’ve every been more proud of my home state.

  • momkat

    Iowa–proud of you again. Barack’s first national win and now this.

  • MR

    I promise a moratorium on a wide variety of Iowa (about trees, Idiots Out Wandering Around, etc) jokes, at least for the time being.

  • Joel

    What a beautifully written court opinion.

  • Heather

    Right on! Thank you, Iowa!

  • bsimon

    It’s about time.

  • Jim!!!

    Way to go Iowa!

  • Bob

    I’ll never refer to Iowa as Corn Patch ever again. Rock on!

    Now, we just have 47 more states, along with Washington DC, the U.S Territories, and the Armed Forces to go…

  • Heidi

    I am so proud to be from Iowa today!! Way to go Hawkeye State 🙂

  • Kara

    I’m very pleased proud to be an Iowan today.

  • begegi

    Is there a MN analog to this case in the works?

  • Alison

    To my knowledge, there isn’t a case in the works in MN. A coalition of GLBT groups in MN is working on a multi-year legislative strategy instead of using the courts. This is due to defeat in a 1971 MN court case. Here is a portion of a statement that can be found at

    “Each state’s constitution, and history of constitutional interpretation, is unique. What may work in one state may not work in another. In Minnesota, our state Supreme Court held in Baker v. Nelson (1971) that same-sex couples have no constitutional right to marriage. While that decision is old and does not answer all possible questions regarding marriage equality, persuading a court to fundamentally change its basic analysis is an uphill battle. OutFront Minnesota believes that “updating” this case with a new, unfavorable ruling would set back our community and its efforts toward marriage equality for years. We strongly support working with a pro-equality Legislature and a pro-equality Governor to achieve fairness for our families.”

    If you would like to help in the legislative effort, see for information on the OutFront Lobby Day and Rally which will be April 23 at the Capitol.

  • Alison

    And thank you to all of the straight allies who have commented! Without you, LGBT equality wouldn’t be where it is today. We’re obviously not there yet, but the advances toward equality made peacefully over the past few decades have been incredible. Many advances have started with LGBT people having the courage to be out, straight people taking the risk to get to know us, and all of us standing together against those who would discriminate. Thank you allies!!!