From the Gazette
A Polk County judge on Thursday struck down Iowa's law banning gay marriage.
The ruling by Judge Robert Hanson concluded that the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and he ordered Polk County Recorder Tim Brien to issue marriage licenses to several gay couples.
"It's a moral victory for equal rights," said Des Moines lawyer Dennis Johnson, who represented six gay couples who filed suit after they were denied marriage licenses.
Camilla Taylor, an attorney with Lambda Legal, a New York-based gay rights organization, said the ruling requires "full equality for all Iowans including gay and lesbian Iowans and their families."
"The Iowa Constitution has lived up to its promises of equality for everyone," she said.
The county is expected to appeal the ruling to the Iowa Supreme Court.
Johnson argued that Iowa has a long history of aggressively protecting civil rights in cases of race and gender. He said the Defense of Marriage Act, which the Legislature passed in 1998, contradicts previous court rulings regarding civil rights and should be struck down.
He said some of the case history in Iowa suggests that marriage is a fundamental right and as such, the state can't choose who people can or cannot marry.
Johnson said the Defense of Marriage law is "mean spirited" and was designed only to prohibit gays from marrying. He said it violates the state constitution's equal protection and due-process clauses.
Lambda Legal, which spearheaded a same-sex marriage drive across the country, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the gay and lesbian couples in Polk County District Court on Dec. 13, 2005.
Roger J. Kuhle, an assistant Polk County attorney, argued that the issue is not for a judge to decide.