Iowa County Judge Deems Ban on Gay Marriages Unconstitutional

August 31, 2007 ( - A Polk County, Iowa judge ruled Tuesday that Iowa's 1998 ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, and ordered the county recorder to issue marriage licenses to six gay couples who had filed the lawsuit against the county.

According to a CNN report, Polk County is expected to appeal the contentious ruling by Judge Robert Hanson to the Iowa Supreme Court. For now, this means that gay couples from anywhere in the state could go to Polk County to get a marriage license.  

The county filed a motion for a stay from Hanson, which, if granted, would prevent anyone from seeking a marriage license until an appeal could be heard, according to the news report.  In fact, according to Business Insurance, the judge subsequently stayed his own decision, pending a state supreme court hearing on the case.

“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” solely because they are of the same sex, Hanson said in the 63-page opinion, according to the news service.

Hanson’s ruling wasin response to a December 2005 lawsuit brought by six same-sex couples who wanted to get a marriage license, but were denied. The couples claimed that the denial of their marriage request was a violation of the equal protection and due process clauses in the Iowa constitution.

The judge further said that a state law describing marriage as only between a man and a woman “constitutes the most intrusive means by the state to regulate marriage. This statute is an absolute prohibition on the ability of gay and lesbian individuals to marry a person of their choosing,” Hanson wrote.

Hanson’s ruling is available  here (download could take a few minutes).