Iowa? Tickle me surprised. Go Iowa!
The Iowa Supreme Court this morning unanimously upheld gays’ right to marry.
“The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,” the justices said in a summary of their decision.
The court rules that gay marriage would be legal in three weeks, starting April 24.
The court affirmed a Polk County District Court decision that would allow six gay couples to marry.
The ruling is viewed as a victory for the gay rights movement in Iowa and elsewhere, and a setback for social conservatives who wanted to protect traditional families.
The decision makes Iowa the first Midwestern state, and the fourth nationwide, to allow same-sex marriages. Lawyers for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group that financed the court battle and represented the couples, had hoped to use a court victory to demonstrate acceptance of same-sex marriage in heartland America.
Richard Socarides, a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay civil rights, said today’s decision could set the stage for other states. Socarides was was a senior political assistant for Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin in the early 1990s.
“I think it’s significant because Iowa is considered a Midwest sate in the mainstream of American thought,” Socarides said. “Unlike states on the coasts, there’s nothing more American than Iowa. As they say during the presidential caucuses, 'As Iowa goes, so goes the nation.’”