same sex marriage in Iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled today that the state cannot deny marriage licenses to same sex couples. While it’s not a surprise ruling because when the religious question is removed it is a simple case of discrimination based on sexual orientation that is clearly in violation of state law, it is a bit of a surprise to the born and raised Iowa girl in me. I am used to my home state being hopelessly mired in religious conservatism and other antequated “ism’s”. 

This last weekend we attended a family wedding. The bride’s sister and her fiancée put together the slide show of the mountain top ceremony for those who hadn’t been able to fly up to witness it. They are a very cute young couple, obviously in love and no different from any other couple a person might encounter in Iowa except for the fact that they are both women – something that until today was not done in Iowa. There are plenty of same sex couples there, but they were not able to bring their relationships to the state for “official” validation before today’s ruling.

People argue that marriage is just a piece of paper and that couples can have the same type of thing without the state’s sanction. I suppose they are technically correct, but without that “piece of paper” they do not have the same rights and protections that those with the paper enjoy and that is the real point. You are not married – however much you might protest that you are – without a formal declaration and a certificate to back it up.

Before I left my last teaching job, one of the teachers there and his partner celebrated their 20th anniversary as a couple.  That was two years ago. How wonderful for them if they would be able to celebrate their upcoming 25th as husband and husband.