The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments Dec. 9 in Lambda Legal’s case on behalf of same-sex couples who want to marry. “We put our best case forward, and hope that the court breathes life into the Iowa Constitution’s promise of equality,” said Senior Staff Attorney Camilla Taylor.
The couples’ case was argued by former Iowa Solicitor General Dennis Johnson of Dorsey & Whitney. “The government has no business standing in the way of a loving same-sex couple who wants to take responsibility for each other and their family,” Johnson said.
Lambda filed suit in Polk County District Court in 2005 on behalf of six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses, arguing that the denials violated the liberty and equality guarantees in the Iowa Constitution. In 2007, the court agreed that banning same-sex couples from marrying was unconstitutional, and the county recorder and registrar appealed to the state Supreme Court.
One gay couple - Sean and Tim McQuillan of Ames - got married before Judge Robert Hanson quickly suspended his ruling when it was appealed.
L.A. Episcopal Diocese OKs Gay-Couple Blessings
The bishop of the Los Angeles diocese of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, announced Dec. 5 that priests can officially bless same-sex couples’ unions. The move came just days after a schism that saw hundreds of congregations split from the Episcopal Church and begin the process of forming their own denomination, primarily because they disagree with the pro-gay positions of the Episcopal Church.
The schism’s roots date to the 2003 election of openly gay and partnered Gene Robinson as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire.
Newsweek Poll: Support For Gay Unions Increases
A Newsweek poll released Dec. 8 found growing public support for same-sex marriage and civil unions. The poll found that 55 percent of Americans support same-sex civil unions and 39 percent support opening marriage to gay couples. In a similar poll four years ago, only 40 percent supported civil unions and 33 percent marriage.
When questioned about extending specific rights of marriage to same-sex couples, respondents were even more supportive, on matters such as inheritance rights (74 percent support), health insurance and employee benefits (73 percent), Social Security payments (67 percent) and hospital visitation rights (86 percent). Those questioned also supported gay adoption (53 percent) and letting gays in the military come out of the closet (66 percent).
The poll found that 52 percent of Americans oppose amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and 43 percent support it.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents know someone gay and 33 percent have a gay family member. Newsweek suggested that knowing gay people may be a key factor that changes attitudes. In a 1994 Newsweek poll, only 53 percent of respondents knew someone gay.
The poll, conducted Dec. 3 and 4, questioned 1,006 U.S. adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
Another poll, a Harris Interactive poll released Dec. 3, found that 75 percent of U.S. adults favor either marriage or civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, and only 22 percent oppose any legal recognition of gay couples. Forty-seven percent said they support same-sex marriage and 49 percent said they do not.
Sykes, Huerta join Equality California Boards
Out comedian Wanda Sykes has joined the board of directors of the Equality California Institute, and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta has joined the Equality California board, EQCA said Dec. 9. “Our two boards have added important new leaders — including many straight allies — from organized labor, faith communities, the entertainment industry and electoral politics,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “With their voices, we’ll be able to build even greater support for equality and fairness.”
Other new members include Sal Rosselli, president of SEIU United Healthcare Workers, former state Assemblymember Lloyd Levine and Ms. Magazine Executive Editor Kathy Spillar.
-assistance: Bill Kelley