First gay marriage to take place in Iowa today

Mon. April 27, 2009 12:00 AM by Kevin Wayne

Judge grants first waiver for same-sex marriage in Iowa; ceremony to happen within the hour

Des Moines - Committed gay and lesbian couples in Iowa have started applying for marriage licenses this morning after a state Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay unions took effect.

According to the Des Moines Register, Melisa Keeton and Shelley Wolfe were the first same-sex couple with a license in hand at the Polk County administration building and Judge Karen Romano granted the Des Moines couple a waiver to the three-day waiting period about 8:40 a.m. The couple plan to have a wedding ceremony within the hour.

Without a judge's waiver, the first day that Iowa will allow gay marriage is on April 30. The standards for waiving the waiting period vary.

In Dubuque County, no same-sex couples had arrived at the courthouse to apply for marriage licenses as of 9 a.m., but six same-sex couples submitted early applications, County Recorder Kathy Flynn Thurlow told the Register. Three of the couples who submitted early applications were from Iowa, and three live outside the state, Thurlow said.

Gay Chicago Magazine offered early out-of-state marriage applications on Friday. A notary public then personally delivered the applications to the Dubuque County courthouse for filing.

Counties throughout Iowa began processing same-sex marriage applications as offices opened at 8 a.m. The state's new marriage forms say "Party A" and "Party B" rather than the traditional "bride" and "groom."

Gay and lesbian couples from neighboring states, including Illinois, are planning trips to Iowa.

Iowa becomes the third state offering same-sex marriage, following Massachusetts and Connecticut. Vermont has passed a law that will take effect in September.

Here are some details on Iowa's process:

Two people are eligible to marry in Iowa if they are over 18 years old, not already legally married to someone else or each other, not closely related to each other and legally competent to enter into a civil contract.

First, you must obtain a marriage license by applying for one at a County Registrar of Vital Statistics within the County Recorder's office. Both parties must either be physically present at the County Registrar's office or must have the form notarized. You'll need satisfactory proof of identity for either the County Registrar or the notary, as well as $35 for the Registrar's fee. You'll also need a "competent and disinterested person," someone of legal age who is acquainted with both parties and unbiased regarding the pending marriage, to sign an affidavit on the back of the application.

Once your signed and notarized application has been submitted, you must wait three business days for your license to be valid, unless you've received a waiver (for example, if you hand in your application on a Monday, your license will be valid on Thursday). A judge has the discretion to grant a waiver. According to the State of Iowa Marriage License Instructions, if the license is not picked up within 6 months, the application is null and void.

You will then need to have a marriage ceremony in Iowa. At the ceremony, both parties must be physically present with an officiant and two witnesses, all of whom must sign the marriage certificate. Your officiant is then required to file your certificate with the County Registrar of Vital Records within 15 days.

The ceremony may be performed by a judge, magistrate, or associate judge of the Iowa Supreme Court, Iowa Court of Appeals, or Iowa District Court, or any individual ordained or designated as a leader of a religious faith.

The Iowa Department of Public Health has issued guidance to County Recorders that as government employees they are obligated to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the same manner as they issue licenses to different sex couples as required by the Iowa Supreme Court ruling in Varnum. If you encounter a problem, please contact Lambda Legal's Help Desk at 312-663-4413 (toll-free: 866-542-8336).

Source: Lambda Legal

Iowa same-sex marriage information:
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