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Judge: Same-sex couples can wed in Iowa

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070831/ap_on_re_us/same_sex_marriage Judge: Same-sex couples can wed in Iowa By DAVID PITT, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 1
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 30, 2007
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      Judge: Same-sex couples can wed in Iowa

      By DAVID PITT, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 1
      minute ago

      DES MOINES, Iowa - A county judge struck down Iowa's
      decade-old gay marriage ban as unconstitutional
      Thursday and ordered local officials to process
      marriage licenses for six gay couples.

      Gay couples from anywhere in Iowa could apply for a
      marriage license from Polk County under Judge Robert
      Hanson's ruling.

      Less than two hours after word of the ruling was
      publicized, two Des Moines men applied for a license,
      the first time the county had accepted a same-sex
      application. The approval process takes three days.

      Gary Allen Seronko, 51, was listed as the groom on the
      form and David Curtis Rethmeier, 29, the bride.

      "I started to cry because we so badly want to be able
      to be protected if something happens to one of us,"
      Rethmeier said.

      Deputy Recorder Trish Umthun said she took five calls
      from gay couples after the judge filed his ruling
      Thursday afternoon and expected a rush of applications

      County attorney John Sarcone said the county will
      appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court and immediately
      sought a stay from Hanson that would prevent gay
      couples from seeking a marriage license until the
      appeal is resolved. The Supreme Court could refer the
      case to the Iowa Court of Appeals, consider the case
      itself or decide not to hear it.

      A hearing is likely to be held on the stay motion next
      week, said Camilla Taylor, an attorney with Lambda
      Legal, a New York-based gay rights organization.

      House Minority Leader Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City,
      said the ruling illustrates the need for a state
      constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

      "I can't believe this is happening in Iowa," he said.
      "I guarantee you there will be a vote on this issue
      come January," when the Legislature convenes.

      Massachusetts is the only state where gay marriage is
      legal, though nine other states have approved spousal
      rights in some form for same-sex couples. Nearly all
      states have defined marriage as being solely between a
      man and a woman, and 27 states have such wording in
      their constitutions, according the National Conference
      of State Legislatures.

      Dennis Johnson, the lawyer for the six gay couples who
      sued in 2005 after they were denied marriage licenses,
      had 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
      rulings regarding civil rights.

      Roger J. Kuhle, an assistant Polk County attorney,
      argued that the issue is not for a judge to decide.

      Hanson ruled that the state law allowing marriage only
      between a man and a woman violates the constitutional
      rights of due process and equal protection.

      "Couples, such as plaintiffs, who are otherwise
      qualified to marry one another may not be denied
      licenses to marry or certificates of marriage or in
      any other way prevented from entering into a civil
      marriage ... by reason of the fact that both person
      comprising such a couple are of the same sex," he


      Associated Press writer Henry C. Jackson contributed
      to this report.
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