Law banning same sex marriages in Iowa 'unconstitutional' says judge

Friday, August 31, 2007 File:800px-US SSM Laws.png

Map showing states that legalized same-sex marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships and states that have banned same-sex marriages.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

An Iowa district court judge has ruled that a 1998 decision banning same-sex marriages in that state is "unconstitutional" and that the ban "violated the rights of due process and equal protection" of people in same-sex relationships said Judge Robert Hanson.

The ruling came when six homosexual couples filed a lawsuit against Polk County, Iowa for not allowing same-sex marriages saying that the ban violated homosexual couples' constitutional rights.

"[This is] a significant step forward in recognizing the constitutional rights of all Iowans. And it's an amazing day for same-sex couples and their families all across Iowa," said a lawyer for the couples who filed the lawsuit, Dennis Johnson.

All six couples received a license to marry as soon as the ruling was made, but John Sarcone, the Polk County District Attorney says that he plans to appeal the ruling. For now, Sarcone has asked that Hanson to put a stay on the ruling and to not allow any same-sex marriage licenses to be issued until an appeal could be made. A decision on whether a stay should be granted is expected next week.

Iowa's governor, Chet Culver has also spoken out against the ruling saying that "while some Iowans may disagree on this issue, I personally believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

For now, same-sex couples can apply for a marriage license for only US$5.00 and a waiver is available for couple who wish to apply to have their marriage license issued immediately instead of the normal three day waiting period.

Massachusetts is currently the only other state in the U.S. to allow same-sex marriages. 11 other states allow civil unions or domestic partnerships.