Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The Iowa Supreme Court’s Decision

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Interesting FindLaw article by Joanna Grossman, a professor of law at Hofstra University, and Linda McClain, a professor of law and Paul M. Siskind Research Scholar at Boston University. It begins:

Last October, Connecticut became the third state to authorize same-sex marriage, through the ruling of its high court in Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health. Massachusetts and California had preceded Connecticut with similar rulings that paved the way for same-sex couples to marry on exactly the same terms as opposite-sex couples.

But the three-state endorsement of same-sex marriage proved only temporary, as California re-banned same-sex marriage in November via Proposition 8, a voter referendum amending the California Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage within the state. Though Prop 8 is currently under challenge, it is likely to be upheld by the California Supreme Court. If so, that ruling will mean same-sex marriage is dead in California for at least the near future, until a pro-same-sex-marriage proposition can again be put on the ballot.

Iowa has now added to the number of states embracing marriage equality. This once again made the count three, a count that lasted only five days because the Vermont legislature – even as this column was being written – passed a marriage equality law, overriding the state governor’s prior veto. (Joanna Grossman will consider the Vermont bill in more detail in a later column.) The state’s highest court issued a unanimous ruling last week in which it struck down a 1998 state law banning same-sex marriage. The court, in Varnum v. Brien, concluded that the ban was a form of unconstitutional sexual-orientation discrimination.

In this column, we will analyze the court’s opinion, paying particular attention to its emphasis on what it means to be an "Iowan" and its treatment of religious justifications for traditional definitions of marriage – the "unspoken" reasons for opposing redefining marriage.

Varnum v. Brien: The Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling and Its Equal Protection Analysis

Amid a flurry of similar enactments, the Iowa legislature amended the Iowa Code’s definition of marriage in 1998 to make clear that marriage was restricted to unions between "a male and a female." And, as happened in many other states, a number of same-sex couples sought marriage licenses anyway, and filed suit when they were refused, claiming that the ban on same-sex marriage violates the Iowa constitution’s guarantees of liberty and equality.

The trial judge granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs on equal protection and due process grounds, a ruling that was stayed pending the future ruling by the state’s highest court, though not before one couple apparently managed to squeeze a marriage license out of the county recorder…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 April 2009 at 8:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

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