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Big week for same-sex marriage

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A year and a half ago, a judge in Iowa declared that Iowa's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The next day, before any marriage licenses could be issued, the judge issued a stay on the ruling, pending an appeal.

This past Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court gave their ruling on the appeal, and it was unanimous: same-sex marriages will be performed in Iowa as soon as April 24.

I haven't yet read the full ruling (PDF), but am very much looking forward to doing so. The official summary of the ruling (PDF) is awesome, especially the parts on pages 4-5 responding to the claims that there are "important governmental objectives" that make it reasonable to not recognize same-sex marriage. Those paragraphs are everything I could have hoped for. Sample:

The court noted that, when tradition is offered as a justification for preserving a statutory scheme challenged on equal protection grounds, the court must determine whether the reasons underlying the tradition are sufficient to satisfy constitutional requirements. These reasons, the court found, must be something other than the preservation of tradition by itself. "When a certain tradition is used as both the governmental objective and the classification to further that objective, the equal protection analysis is transformed into the circular question of whether the classification accomplishes the governmental objective, which objective is to maintain the classification."

I never thought I'd say this, but I <3 the Iowa Supreme Court.

I was surprised in 2007 to hear that Iowa was the latest possible place where same-sex marriage could be legalized, but perhaps I shouldn't have been. In addition to the "Iowa Stubborn" lyrics that are being quoted everywhere over the past couple days ("So, what the heck, you're welcome, glad to have you with us. Even though we may not ever mention it again" and so on), there's this line from Dar Williams's song "Iowa" (which is not a happy cheerful song, but I like this opening line): "I've never had a way with women, but the hills of iowa make me wish that I could."


There was other good news on the same-sex marriage front this past week as well.

For example, Sweden legalized it on April 1 (not a joke):

Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to recognise same-sex marriage, becoming the fifth country in Europe to do so.

--BBC article

The other nations where same-sex marriage is currently legal are Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, and Spain. (There are a bunch of variations in other countries--recognized but not performed, civil unions, etc. See Wikipedia's Status of same-sex marriage article for details, specifically the sidebar on the right side of the page.)

And on Friday the 3rd, the Vermont House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, one that had already been passed in the state Senate. Vermont's governor, James Douglas, has said he'll veto; it's unclear whether the legislature has enough votes to override the veto. (Probably yes in the Senate; uncertain in the House.)

Also, the New Hampshire House of Representatives narrowly passed a same-sex marriage bill the previous week, sending it along to the state Senate. Sadly, even if it passes in the Senate, I gather that the New Hampshire governor is likely to veto it, and it sounds like there aren't nearly enough votes to override a veto there.

Still, all in all a good week.

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