In a great week for civil rights advocates, both Iowa and Vermont passed legislation giving same-sex couples full legal marriage rights. Iowa’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled to overturn the state’s ten-year-old ban on gay marriage on April 3, making it the third state to legalize marriage equality.
The case began in 2005 when six gay and lesbian couples filed for marriage licenses and were denied. All seven justices affirmed that the state’s gay marriage ban had been allowing for unequal treatment of gays and lesbians and “excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification,” as Justice Mark Cady wrote.
Approximately 5,800 same-sex Iowan couples celebrated the ruling, but unsurprisingly, conservatives and anti-gay marriage activists were less enthused.
“There are…vermin now celebrating twisted perverse marriage in the middle of America. It’s a victory for perversion in my opinion,” radio host and Rockstar energy drink co-creator Michael Savage commented on his show. “It is suicide for a society to embrace such behavior.”
The Court wrote, “We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important government objective.” The Polk county attorney who defended the gay marriage ban said he would not seek a retrial. Opponents of marriage equality can only reverse the decision with an amendment to the state’s constitution, which requires a public vote and could not actively prohibit gays from marrying until at least 2012.
Attorney to the plaintiffs Dennis Johnson thanked his clients at a news conference and said, “Go get married, live happily ever after, live the American dream.”