From the Des Moines Register:
The Iowa Supreme Court this morning unanimously upheld gaysâ€™ right to marry.
â€œThe Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,â€ the justices said in a summary of their decision.
The court affirmed a Polk County District Court decision that would allow six gay couples to marry.
The ruling is viewed as a victory for the gay rights movement in Iowa and elsewhere, and a setback for social conservatives who wanted to protect traditional families.
The decision makes Iowa the first Midwestern state, and the fourth nationwide, to allow same-sex marriages. Lawyers for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group that financed the court battle and represented the couples, had hoped to use a court victory to demonstrate acceptance of same-sex marriage in heartland America.
The Iowa Supreme Courtâ€™s Web site was deluged with more than 350,000 visitors this morning, in anticipation of the ruling, a Judicial Branch spokesman said this morning.
Steve Davis, a court spokesman, said administrators added extra computer servers to handle the expected increase in Web traffic. But â€œthis is unprecedented,â€ Davis said.
Richard Socarides, a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay civil rights, said todayâ€™s decision could set the stage for other states. Socarides was was a senior political assistant for Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin in the early 1990s.
â€œI think itâ€™s significant because Iowa is considered a Midwest sate in the mainstream of American thought,â€ Socarides said. â€œUnlike states on the coasts, thereâ€™s nothing more American than Iowa. As they say during the presidential caucuses, ‘As Iowa goes, so goes the nation.â€™â€
Itâ€™s probable that county and state governments in Iowa, as in other states that have passed gay marriage laws, will be given two or three months to put the change in place. That means that such unions wonâ€™t begin today, said Justin Uebelhor, director of communications for One Iowa, the stateâ€™s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered advocacy group.
â€œTypically, itâ€™s not immediate, and thatâ€™s most likely what weâ€™d be looking at in Iowa,â€ Uebelhor said.
Press release from the court here (pdf).
Make no mistake, this is a HUGE win. Not just a ruling in favor of justice, but a UNANIMOUS ruling in a Midwestern swing state.