Iowa Supreme Court clears the way for gay marriage in Iowa

Fri. April 3, 2009 12:00 AM by News Staff

Des Moines, Iowa - The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled the state's law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and violates the rights of gay and lesbian couples.

In a unanimous ruling issued Friday morning at 8:30, the court upheld a 2007 Polk County District Court judge's ruling that the law was unconstitutional.

Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization, filed a lawsuit in 2005 on behalf of six gay and lesbian couples, arguing a state law which banned same-sex marriage was discriminatory.

Since 1998, Iowa state law had stipulated that the only legally recognized marriages are those between a man and a woman. Today's ruling will allows same-sex couples to file for a license and get married in Iowa.

Iowa law does not require people who are married in that state to be Iowa residents. Couples from out-of-state, including Chicago, may travel to Iowa to tie the knot.

"People have traveled to Spain, they've traveled to Mexico and California and Massachusetts and Connecticut to be married," Equality Illinois public policy director Rick Garcia told the Chicago Tribune. "Now they can just jump over the border."

Garcia noted that a legal marriage in Iowa will still mean nothing when Illinoisans return home.

Iowa is the third state in the nation that allows same-sex marriage, along with Massachusetts and Connecticut.