Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
POLK COUNTY, Iowa, August 31, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com)—An Iowa judge ruled Wednesday that the state’s “gay marriage” ban violated the Constitution’s protections for due process and equal protection of the laws.
Polk County judge Robert Hansen immediately ordered county officials to give marriage licenses to the six gay couples who had sued to overturn the ban.
Because the licenses still read “bride” and “groom” the homosexuals had to register under those categories. They did not state how they decided the matter.
Plaintiff Jen Barbou Roske, of Iowa city, was giddy with the news. “This is kind of the American Dream…I’m still feeling kind of shaky. It’s pure elation. I just cannot believe it,” she told the Associated Press.
“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,” Lambda Legal attorney Camilla Taylor told the French news agency AFP.
Matt Barber, Policy Director for Cultural Issues with Concerned Women for America, differed in his analysis of the event. “Once again we have another renegade judge abusing the authority he’s been granted and arbitrarily legislating from the bench. Hanson is a judicial activist. He’s just one man – a county judge – who has haughtily trampled on the concept of separation of powers, the elected state legislature and the people of Iowa in order to push his own radical agenda. It’s preposterous to think that the framers of the Iowa constitution could have even imagined that the document they were drafting would someday be distorted in such a way as to force “‘gay marriage” upon Iowa, said Barber.
The judge granted a stay for the order only twenty-four hours after he issued it, allowing the county prosecutor to appeal the decision, but by that time, 23 homosexual couples had applied for licenses. However, only one couple managed to obtain a marriage certificate before the stay was granted, using a legal loophole that allows the three-day waiting period to be waived with a judge’s order. They were “married” by a Unitarian minister, who upon completing the ceremony declared to the two men, “this is a legal document and you are married”.
Republican House Minority Leader Christopher Rants resolved to act quickly against the ruling. “I can’t believe this is happening in Iowa. I guarantee you there will be a vote on this issue,” he told the Associated Press.
A group of Iowa lawmakers had attempted to intervene in the suit in 2006, arguing that they were the ones with the right to change the laws, rather than the courts. Judge Hansen, however, dismissed their motion, stating that “whether or not constitutional claims are valid is a matter of judicial determination, not legislative”, and “the separation of powers between legislative and judicial authority is not endangered by this case. Nor will any determination by this court limit the legislature’s authority to make laws.”
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty had also filed a brief in the case in early August, stating that if same-sex “marriage” were approved, the legal consequences would be catastrophic for religious freedom in the US. The organization warned that those who reject homosexual behavior would be exposed to lawsuits for refusing to provide services or benefits to same sex “spouses”. Their arguments also failed to sway Judge Hansen.
Governor Chet Culver declared that his “personal” belief was contrary to the ruling, stating that “while some Iowans may disagree on this issue, I personally believe marriage is between a man and a woman”.