Gay rights advocates in Iowa are
counting down the minutes to Saturday. Some will gather Friday in
Ames at the Unitarian Universalist church for a potluck dinner.
Others will celebrate Saturday at a wine tasting hosted at the Cedar
Rapids Gay and Lesbian Resource Center. Everyone is excited.
Excited that despite numerous attacks from opponents, the state
Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage is holding strong a
The court's April 3 ruling was a
sweeping win for gay rights advocates. The seven justice court
unanimously agreed with the six gay and lesbian couples who had
challenged the state for a marriage license.
The order was unequivocal in its
demand: gay couples are equal under the law to heterosexual couples.
“[W]ith respect to the government's
purpose of 'providing an institutional basis for defining the
fundamental relational rights and responsibilities of persons,'
same-sex couple are similarly situated to opposite-sex couples,”
the court said, adding that, “The Legislature has excluded a
historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important
civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient
At the time, only Massachusetts and
Connecticut granted gay couples the right to marry. Since then, two
more states – New Hampshire and Vermont – and the District of
Columbia have legislatively legalized the institution. Maine was the
first state to do so, but the law was repealed by voters before it
The Iowa decision – with its decisive
mandate for marriage equality – renewed fizzling momentum on the
issue after Californians voted to ban gay marriage in November of
On the day the court issued its ruling,
one gay couple had already wed. Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan, a pair
of Iowa State University undergraduates, married on August 31, 2007.
The men were the only couple to successfully secure documents and
find a judge to marry them before an Iowa District Court ruling that
found the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional was appealed to
the Iowa Supreme Court.
A year and a half later, jubilation followed
as dozens of gay and lesbian couples too slow to take advantage of the
one day window joined Fritz and McQuillan, who welcomed them to the
Opponents have not taken the ruling
lying down. At rallies and demonstrations, on billboards and
websites and at the Statehouse they are pressing lawmakers to put the
issue up for a popular vote. Democrats, who control the Legislature,
so far have managed to block Republican-led efforts to begin the
multi-year process to amend the Iowa Constitution. The issue is
certain to dominate this year's gubernatorial election.
But on Saturday, advocates won't have
their parade rained on.
“Fairness won out, and Iowa continues
to inspire America to follow its heartland to marriage equality,”
Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom
to Marry, said in a statement. “The milestone marks yet
another moment in the marriage movement when critics said we couldn't
– but we did.”