Missourians react to Iowa court's ruling on same-sex marriage

Friday, April 3, 2009 | 5:23 p.m. CDT; updated 5:38 p.m. CDT, Friday, April 3, 2009

COLUMBIA — A statewide ban on same-sex marriage was deemed unconstitutional by the Iowa Supreme Court on Friday.

Similar bans have been overturned through court decisions in the past in California, Connecticut and Massachusetts, but the Iowa court's ruling in Varnum v. Brien marks the first such instance in the region.

“While the Iowa decision doesn’t directly affect Missourians, it shows that the trend toward equality is inevitable. The fact that Iowa is right next door to Missouri shows that marriage equality is not just a coastal phenomenon,” said A.J. Bockelman, executive director of PROMO, Missouri’s statewide advocacy organization for the equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Lance Pierce, president and founder of Allies in Action, an LGBT advocacy group at MU, said the decision of the Iowa court is different than similar action occurring in San Francisco or elsewhere on the coast. Pierce said that because Iowa is not an extremely liberal state, the decision shows same-sex marriage is not a political issue, but a rational interpretation of existing law.

“It's a clear case of discrimination,” Pierce said of the overruled Iowa law.

The Iowa court's unanimous decision overruled a state law that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The court said the statute violated the due process and equal protection clause of the state constitution.

According to a news release from Steve Davis, communications officer for the Iowa Supreme Court, the court directed that “the remaining statutory language be interpreted and applied in a manner allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil marriage.”

Bockelman said the decision should “give hope to all Missourians who cherish fairness, justice and equality.”

Bockelman said that though Missourians can be married in Iowa, the union will not be recognized in Missouri because of a 2004 amendment to the state constitution that states “marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman.”

The Iowa Supreme Court's decision upholds the Aug. 30, 2007, ruling by the Polk County District Court which found the unconstitutionality of the law through rationale similar to what the state Supreme Court stated today.

“This is a truly historic day and a breakthrough for equal rights in the United States,” Bockelman said. “The fact that marriage is now a reality right next door in Iowa gives me a great deal of hope that we will be able to achieve equality here in Missouri, but it’s going to take a lot of work."

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Ray Shapiro April 4, 2009 | 10:48 a.m.

[ Missouri because of a 2004 amendment to the state constitution that states “marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman.”]
Which is exactly how the almighty commands it to be.

(Report Comment)
Matt Y April 4, 2009 | 10:54 a.m.

So says you.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 4, 2009 | 11:36 a.m.

Not everyone believes in your Almighty, Ray. If liberal Jews don't believe in gay marriage, then don't allow marriage by gays under your religion. Problem solved. Seems the not-so-liberal Jews of the Old Testament had some practices set down by the Almighty that are not followed these day, correct?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 4, 2009 | 12:17 p.m.

I didn't know that the Missouri State Constitution was amended by a whole slew of Missouri's Liberal Jewish Population.
Considering that there's probably a bigger slew of Lesbians, Gays, Bi-Sexuals, Transgendered and Queers (as in LGBTQ), in Missouri, you would think that such an amendment couldn't possibly have been passed.
Perhaps there are certain Judaic-Christian ethics, morals and values worth preserving.
Let the voters decide regarding the legalities. Morality be damned!

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice April 4, 2009 | 12:26 p.m.

I'm just relieved to see institutional decency so close to our borders.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 4, 2009 | 2:01 p.m.

Tracy Greever-Rice:
Personally, I'm happy for you. However, at the same time I'm concerned about our borders. At face value, this may sound ambiguous, but it is not.
While I believe that the government should not be in the marriage business at all, until that totally changes, I will use the polling place and public sites, such as this, to protect the concept of that which governmentally constitutes a traditional marriage. In the event lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, transgendered and queers, (as in LGBTQ), manage to legally destroy that concept, then I hope they also don't destroy my right to voice my opinion on public, (and private), venues.
I hope my stance is clear. Advocate for the elimination of government's involvement in the marriage business and then you and I have a common enemy. Advocate for the government to legally destroy the word "marriage" and Pandora's box has been opened.

(Report Comment)
Thomas Json April 4, 2009 | 5:00 p.m.

Yes, Ray. Because after the gays earn the right to marry, their issue number one is to curtail your free speech. Be very afraid!

As to real life though, congratulations to the Iowa LGBTQ community. I've never been prouder of my native state.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 4, 2009 | 8:23 p.m.

Thomas Json:
Not afraid.
Just concerned.
"Political Correctness" is already being used as a form of censorship. Who knows what the future will be like if our government panders to the LGBTQ lifestyle. Heck, heterosexuality might even become the minority!
I'm glad you found something to be proud of.
(I wonder what the original "TJ" would have to say about this marriage thing?)

(Report Comment)
Brett Knight April 5, 2009 | 11:29 p.m.

That would at least be a nice form of population control.

I can say in seriousness, though, that this is one of the few times in my young life that I've been proud to be from the Midwest. This is a big kick in the groin for California.

(Report Comment)
Laura McBride April 7, 2009 | 8:55 p.m.

I am an Iowan. Know this....Iowans were not given a voice in this matter. So hold you can hold your praise. Recent polls show we remain strongly against SSM, despite the overstepping of the authority of the Iowa Supreme Court Justices. Iowa Supreme Court Justices do not have authority to make laws. We are aggressively fighting this ruling, and seeking a Constitutional Amendment to be put to a vote of the people on 2011. It can not come soon enough, as we should have done this long ago! Marriage is between a man and a woman. Traditional marriage is the stronghold of Iowa and is at the core of our souls. We WILL overturn this ruling. Keep watching! It's not over yet!

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 7, 2009 | 9:20 p.m.

Well Laura, that's all nice and well, but the Iowa Supreme Court did not make laws, it judged that your state's constitution did not forbid gay marriages and the law that was previously passed was unconstitutional. To call those who strictly uphold a state's constitution "activist" is quite wrong.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 7, 2009 | 9:30 p.m.

(Republican warns of 'gay marriage Mecca'
...Iowa does not become the gay marriage Mecca due to the Supreme Court's latest experiment in social engineering.")

(Report Comment)
ShowMe NoHate April 28, 2009 | 8:20 a.m.

I really find some of these comments humorous.

I am reassured that Iowa, for some reason, doesn't have the fundamental Christians running a muck like we do in our State of Missouri. They are honest Americans who believe in personal rights and freedoms. They might not like SSM but they know that unless they are gay, it doesn't really matter to them.

To that Iowa person that spoke about how Iowans have not voted on this, well you are wrong. They have voted in their representatives into office, and these folks have done everything in their power to allow the Judicial Branch of government to act decisively. Our problem is that our Constitution in Missouri has been so violated that it needs to be completely overhauled and protected. The fact that I can get anything up for a ballot vote is kind of scary! Maybe the next ballot measure in MO will be to make Jesus the official ruler of Missourians. It would probably pass.

Are you all asleep at the wheel? We do have three branches of Government to protect us. That is why we have a Supreme Court my friends, otherwise you have Nazi Germany.

Keep your Bible out of my Constitution.

(Report Comment)

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