Justice David S. Wiggins pointed out that society’s notion of what was acceptable in marriage had evolved over time. “Thirty years ago you couldn’t have interracial marriage — I mean things are just changing, is marriage, as you call it, a static relationship?”
The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Varnum v. Brien on Tuesday 12/9.
At the core of this case is the question of whether or not Iowa’s 10 year-old definition of a valid marriage as only “between a male and female” violates the Iowa Constitution’s guarantees of equal treatment and due process.
It looks like activists judges rear their ugly heads in Iowa too. Six same-sex couples financed and represented by the national gay and lesbian rights group Lambda Legal, sued the Polk County Recorder and Registrar Timothy Brien in 2005, after his office denied them marriage licenses. Polk County District Court Judge Robert Hanson sided with the couples in a ruling last year but then suspended his decision pending a high court ruling on the matter.
“The law is extremely over-inclusive in its attempt to strengthen heterosexual marriage and procreation by preventing an entire distinct group of individuals — homosexuals — from marrying,” Judge Hanson wrote.
A trial court judge ruled last year that the law was unconstitutional and that a dozen gay men and lesbians had been wrongly denied marriage licenses in Polk County, which includes the state capital, Des Moines.
The state, i.e. the Polk County attorney’s office appealed the lower-court ruling to the Iowa Supreme Court on the grounds that,
[Judge] Hanson erred in his 2007 ruling and that the county had followed the “clear, unambiguous language” of state law.
In a case that could make Iowa the first Midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage, the Iowa Supreme Court pressed lawyers for both sides with sharp questions on topics like the 4,000-year-old history of marriage and whether a ruling favoring gay couples would open the door to polygamy. [Several justices challenged the attorneys on this issue].
I say that any ruling allowing the marriage of same-sex couples would most definitely be geared towards the further disintegration of the already tattered moral fiber of American society. Dennis Johnson, a Des Moines lawyer, criticized Polk County’s arguments about possible long-term damage to marriage as “highly speculative,” and cast the law as an intrusion on equal rights. I don’t understand how this guy could classify the potential for damage as “highly speculative.” Studies on the issue abound, and the facts and statistics of the long term effects of same-sex marriage are horrifically present. Johnson should be very clear on this, but apparently chooses to “speculate” despite the information that is available.
Many questions arose during oral arguments, and issues such as the following will have to be sorted out:
“Where was the line, they asked, between religious and governmental interests in definitions of marriage? How did the state’s defense of the law defining marriage differ from the way it might have once defended now-defunct laws barring interracial marriage? Would allowing same-sex marriage encourage more gay couples to adopt, and was there anything wrong with that?”
An assistant attorney for Polk County, Roger J. Kuhle, said the core of marriage, historically, was about children and creating stable systems for procreation.
“The essential factor of marriage, which is procreation, which is raising children, which is replenishing society, has never changed,” Mr. Kuhle told the court.