On Friday, the Iowa State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the state's DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is unconstitutional. After the seriously big downer that was Prop 8, this was the most awesome news in...well...since the California State Supreme Court upheld a law allowing same-sex marriage.
I actually read the decision Saturday morning. It's 69 pages. Hey, Nicky woke me up at 7 a.m. and Jesse doesn't usually wake up until 11 so I had plenty of time to kill. Allow me to summarize the
key awesome points for you...
- Regarding the plaintiffs: Like all Iowans, they prize their liberties and live within the borders of this state with the expectation that their rights will be maintained and protected—a belief embraced by our state motto (which is "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain”).
- The defense: The County offered five primary interests of society in support of the legislature’s exclusive definition of marriage. The first three interests are broadly related to the advancement of child rearing. Specifically, the objectives centered on promoting procreation, promoting child rearing by a mother and a father within a marriage, and promoting stability in an opposite-sex relationship to raise and nurture children. The fourth interest raised by the County addressed the conservation of state resources, while the final reason concerned the governmental interest in promoting the concept and integrity of the traditional notion of marriage.
- Among other basic principles essential to our form of government, the constitution defines certain individual rights upon which the government may not infringe. Equal protection of the law is one of the guaranteed rights. All these rights and principles are declared and undeniably accepted as the supreme law of this state, against which no contrary law can stand.
- Our responsibility, however, is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time. The framers of the Iowa Constitution knew, as did the drafters of the United States Constitution, that “times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress,” and as our constitution “endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom” and equality.
- No two people or groups of people are the same in every way, and nearly every equal protection claim could be run aground onto the shoals of a threshold analysis if the two groups needed to be a mirror image of one another. Such a threshold analysis would hollow out the constitution’s promise of equal protection. Thus, equal protection before the law demands more than the equal application of the classifications made by the law. The law itself must be equal. (argument against procreation as a requirement for marriage)
- It is true the marriage statute does not expressly prohibit gay and lesbian persons from marrying; it does, however, require that if they marry, it must be to someone of the opposite sex. Viewed in the complete context of marriage, including intimacy, civil marriage with a person of the opposite sex is as unappealing to a gay or lesbian person as civil marriage with a person of the same sex is to a heterosexual. Thus, the right of a gay or lesbian person under the marriage statute to enter into a civil marriage only with a person of the opposite sex is no right at all. (discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in Iowa)
- If the marriage statute was truly focused on optimal parenting, many classifications of people would be excluded (child abusers and sexual predators were given as examples), not merely gay and lesbian people (basically there is no fundamental difference in child-rearing between same sex couples and heterosexual parents.)
- While unexpressed, religious sentiment most likely motivates many, if not most, opponents of same-sex civil marriage and perhaps even shapes the views of those people who may accept gay and lesbian unions but find the notion of same-sex marriage unsettling. Whether expressly or impliedly, much of society rejects same-sex marriage due to sincere, deeply ingrained—even fundamental—religious belief.
- This contrast of opinions in our society largely explains the absence of any religion-based rationale to test the constitutionality of Iowa’s same-sex marriage ban. Our constitution does not permit any branch of government to resolve these types of religious debates. State government can have no religious views, either directly or indirectly, expressed through its legislation.
- And the Pièce de résistance: As a result, civil marriage must be judged under our constitutional standards of equal protection and not under religious doctrines or the religious views of individuals...
- A religious denomination can still define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and a marriage ceremony performed by a minister, priest, rabbi, or other person ordained or designated as a leader of the person’s religious faith does not lose its meaning as a sacrament or other religious institution. The sanctity of all religious marriages celebrated in the future will have the same meaning as those celebrated in the past. The only difference is civil marriage will now take on a new meaning that reflects a more complete understanding of equal protection of the law.
So gays have just as much a right to get married as straights do? Wow. What a concept.*
* Yes, that was sarcasm.