Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Judge stays ruling that tossed Iowa's gay marriage ban, but 1 couple legally marries first

Judge stays ruling that tossed Iowa's gay marriage ban, but 1 couple legally marries first

Two men sealed Iowa's first legal same-sex marriage with a kiss Friday morning, less than 24 hours after a judge threw out the state's ban on gay marriage and about two hours before he put his own ruling on hold.
It was a narrow window of opportunity.
Polk County Judge Robert Hanson temporarily cleared the way for same-sex couples across the state to apply for marriage licenses in the county when he ruled Thursday that Iowa's 1998 Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed marriage only between a man and a woman, violated the constitutional rights of six gay couples who had sued.
County attorney John Sarcone promised a quick appeal and asked Hanson to stay his ruling until that appeal was resolved.
A dozen gay and lesbian couples were waiting at the county recorder's office when it opened at 7:30 (1230 GMT) Friday morning.
"This might be our only chance," said Katy Farlow, who waited in a lawn chair with fellow Iowa State University student Larissa Boeck.
Just after 11 a.m. (1600 GMT), about 20 gay couples had finished applying for marriage licenses when Recorder Julie Haggerty announced she could no longer accept applications. Hanson told The Associated Press about an hour and half later that he had formally stayed his ruling.
The stay meant the recorder's office was not permitted to accept any more marriage applications from gay couples until the Iowa Supreme Court rules on the county's appeal.
Gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, and 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.
Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan were among the lucky few to get their application through.
The marriage license approval process normally takes three business days, but Fritz and McQuillan took advantage of a loophole that allows couples to skip the waiting period if they pay a $5 fee and get a judge to sign a waiver.
Friday morning, the Rev. Mark Stringer declared the two legally married in a wedding on Unitarian minister's front lawn in Des Moines.
"This is it. We're married. I love you," Fritz told McQuillan after the ceremony.
Republican House Minority Leader Christopher Rants, said the ruling illustrates the need for a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
"I can't believe this is happening in Iowa," Rants said. "I guarantee you there will be a vote on this issue come January," when the Legislature convenes.
Gov. Chet Culver left open the possibility of state action.
"While some Iowans may disagree on this issue, I personally believe marriage is between a man and a woman," the governor said.
Dennis Johnson, a lawyer for the six gay couples who sued after being denied marriage licenses in 2005, said Iowa has a long history of aggressively protecting civil rights in cases of race and gender. The Defense of Marriage Act contradicts previous rulings regarding civil rights and is simply "mean spirited," he said.
Hanson ruled that the state law banning same-sex marriage must be nullified, severed and stricken from the books, and the marriage laws "must be read and applied in a gender neutral manner so as to permit same-sex couples to enter into a civil marriage ..."
___
Associated Press writers David Pitt and Nafeesa Syeed in Des Moines contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-06-14 14:13 GMT+08:00