Jewish Journal


April 3, 2009

Iowa and gay marriage



Photo: ABC News

While I was away today, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a law limiting marriage to a man and woman was unconstitutional. Cathy Lynn Grossman has some religious reaction to the decision. Here is an excerpt from Christianity Today’s story:

In its opinion, the court addressed religious opposition to same-sex marriage, saying that a religious denomination can still define marriage as between a man and a woman, but civil marriage “reflects a more complete understanding of equal protection of the law.”

“While unexpressed, religious sentiment most likely motivates many, if not most, opponents of same-sex civil marriage and perhaps even shapes the views of those people who may accept gay and lesbian unions but find the notion of same-sex marriage unsettling,” the seven justices said in a summary of their opinion. “Civil marriage must be judged under our constitutional standards of equal protection and not under religious doctrines or the religious views of individual.”

The court said that its desire to protect religious freedom is consistent with preventing government from endorsing any religious view, which opponents found troubling.

“The notion that the only reason one could have an opposition to same-sex marriage is because of religion is pretty preposterous,” said John Eastman, dean of the law school at Chapman University in California. “And to discount religion or to say it’s not a legitimate part of the discourse is not only erroneous but dangerous.”

The justices referred to Iowa’s history on several landmark decisions in its opinion. “Since territorial times, Iowa has given meaning to this constitutional provision, striking blows to slavery and segregation, and recognizing women’s rights,” the justices wrote. “The court found the issue of same-sex marriage comes to it with the same importance as the landmark cases of the past.”

Iowa’s court case began in 2005, when six same-sex couples filed a lawsuit because a county recorder would not accept their marriage license applications. The decision still surprised many because it was the first state in the Midwest to approve same-sex marriage.

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