The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday on a same-sex marriage case that challenges whether Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act enacted in 1998 is constitutional. The case specifically challenges whether a ban on same-sex marriage violates the Iowa constitution’s “equal protection” clause (Article 1, Section 6) and “due process” clause (Article 1, Section 9). Decisions from Iowa’s high court usually come two to six months after oral arguments.
The case, Varnum v. Brien, was filed by Lambda Legal in 2005. The plaintiffs in the case are a group of same-sex couples who tried to get marriage licenses in Polk County in late 2005 or early 2006, including Kate Varnum and her partner Trish, who has legally changed her last name to Varnum also. The defendant in the case is Timothy J. Brien, the Polk County Recorder who refused to issue marriage licenses to the couples. Brien informed the couples he could not issue marriage licenses to them by state law, citing the Defense of Marriage Act (Iowa Code, Section 595.2).