People For the American Way Foundation celebrates decision affirming constitutional principles of liberty and equality
A unanimous Iowa Supreme Court today upheld a lower court ruling that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates the equal protection clause of the state’s constitution. People For the American Way Foundation, which was amicus in the case, welcomed the decision as a victory for core constitutional and American values.
“The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision is a historic affirmation of equality,” said People For the American Way Foundation Interim President Michael B. Keegan. “It’s a joyous day for the Iowa families involved in the case, and for equality advocates in Iowa and across the nation. Congratulations to the courageous couples who challenged unfair and unconstitutional discrimination, and to One Iowa, Lambda Legal, and all their allies. We were glad to support their work in this case.”
Keegan urged Americans not to be confused by expected distortions of today’s ruling from opponents of marriage equality.
“Americans rely on independent courts to uphold constitutional principles, and that’s what the Iowa Supreme Court did today,” said Keegan. “The Court did its job. This ruling protects Iowa families. And it reaffirms the state’s tradition as a leader in ending historic forms of discrimination.”
People For the American Way Foundation has supported marriage equality for more than a decade, and has filed amicus briefs in many of the major marriage equality cases, including Varnum v. Brien, the Iowa case.
Keegan noted that People For the American Way Foundation tracks and challenges misinformation used by Religious Right leaders in campaigns opposing marriage equality. A recent Right Wing Watch In Focus report (available here) exposed the Right’s tactic of blurring the distinction between civil and religious marriage and offered equality advocates ways to counter false claims about marriage equality being a threat to religious liberty.
“The Iowa Supreme Court justices clearly and respectfully addressed those with religious objections to same-sex marriage,” said Keegan, “This ruling upholds two core constitutional principles, religious liberty and equality under the law, and makes it clear that there is no contradiction between the two.”
Today’s ruling upholds an August 2007 decision by an Iowa district court that it was unconstitutional to deny marriage to same-sex couples. Lambda Legal filed suit with the Polk County Court in December 2005 on behalf of six same-sex couples and their children after the couples were denied marriage licenses. Iowa joins Massachusetts and Connecticut as states where same-sex couples may be legally married.
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