Friday, August 31, 2007

Iowa allows same sex marriages


Gay couples rush to marry after Iowa court ruling

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Homosexual couples in the conservative midwest
state of Iowa rushed to apply to marry Friday after a judge ruled that
a state law forbidding gay marriage was discriminatory.

One male couple married and 22 others applied to wed Friday one day
after Des Moines county judge Robert Hanson reversed the law banning
the act.

The two men paid an extra fee to skip the usual three-day wait and
formally registered their marriage Friday morning, according to Des
Moines county official Trish Umthun.

"Twenty-three couples applied for a marriage license. And one got
married. They got a judge to waive the three-day delay," said Umthun.

But by midday, the same judge suspended applications at the demand of
the county prosecutor, who intends to appeal Hanson's ruling to the
state supreme court.

Local gay activists cheered Hanson's decision overturning the law.

"Same-sex couples all across Iowa woke up Thursday morning believing
they might never be allowed to marry in their home state, and by the
end of the day, a wonderful world had opened up for them," said
Camilla Taylor, an attorney with gay rights advocates Lambda Legal.

Hanson's ruling Thursday revived for the 2008 presidential race
already underway a polarizing issue that played heavily in the
hard-fought 2004 election.

In the 2004 campaign, hardline Republicans sought to stir fears after
Massachusetts became the first state to allow gay couples to wed by
saying it would destroy the institution of marriage.

That the issue arose anew in Iowa is more significant, since
presidential hopefuls spend a lot of time in the state wooing voters,
who traditionally are the first to vote to choose who will be the
final candidates for the White House.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney quickly condemned
Hanson's ruling Friday and called for a constitutional amendment to
block any gay marriage.

"The ruling in Iowa is another example of an activist court and
unelected judges trying to redefine marriage and disregards the will
of the people as expressed through Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act.

"This once again highlights the need for a Federal Marriage Amendment
to protect the traditional definition of marriage as between one man
and one woman," Romney said.

Hanson overturned the Iowa law banning gay marriage on the grounds
that the law violates "due process and equal protection rights" and
was "unconstitutional and invalid."

"This court has yet to hear any convincing argument as to how
excluding same-sex couples from getting married promotes responsible
reproduction in general or by different-sex couples in particular," he
said in his decision.

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