Gay couples rush to marry after Iowa court ruling

Homosexual couples in the conservative midwest state of Iowa rushed to apply to marry after a judge ruled that a state law forbidding gay marriage was discriminatory.

Gay couples rush to marry after Iowa court ruling
One male couple married and 22 others applied to wed Friday one day after Des Moines county judge Robert Hanson reversed the law banning the act.

The two men paid an extra fee to skip the usual three-day wait and formally registered their marriage Friday morning, according to Des Moines county official Trish Umthun.

"Twenty-three couples applied for a marriage license. And one got married. They got a judge to waive the three-day delay," said Umthun.

But by midday, the same judge suspended applications at the demand of the county prosecutor, who intends to appeal Hanson's ruling to the state supreme court.

Local gay activists cheered Hanson's decision overturning the law.

"Same-sex couples all across Iowa woke up Thursday morning believing they might never be allowed to marry in their home state, and by the end of the day, a wonderful world had opened up for them," said Camilla Taylor, an attorney with gay rights advocates Lambda Legal.

Hanson's ruling Thursday revived for the 2008 presidential race already underway a polarizing issue that played heavily in the hard-fought 2004 election.

In the 2004 campaign, hardline Republicans sought to stir fears after Massachusetts became the first state to allow gay couples to wed by saying it would destroy the institution of marriage.

That the issue arose anew in Iowa is more significant, since presidential hopefuls spend a lot of time in the state wooing voters, who traditionally are the first to vote to choose who will be the final candidates for the White House.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney quickly condemned Hanson's ruling Friday and called for a constitutional amendment to block any gay marriage.

"The ruling in Iowa is another example of an activist court and unelected judges trying to redefine marriage and disregards the will of the people as expressed through Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act.

"This once again highlights the need for a Federal Marriage Amendment to protect the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman," Romney said.

Hanson overturned the Iowa law banning gay marriage on the grounds that the law violates "due process and equal protection rights" and was "unconstitutional and invalid."

"This court has yet to hear any convincing argument as to how excluding same-sex couples from getting married promotes responsible reproduction in general or by different-sex couples in particular," he said in his decision.

Last Mod: 01 Eylül 2007, 12:50
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