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April 3, 2009
12:42 PM

CONTACT: Freedom to Marry

Evan Wolfson,Executive Director, Freedom to Marry
212-851-8418; Mobile: 646-263-5552

Iowa Ends Gay Couples' Exclusion From Marriage

Iowa Joins Connecticut and Massachusetts as the Next State to Uphold the Freedom to Marry

NEW YORK - April 3 - The Iowa Supreme Court today handed down a unanimous decision in favor of the freedom to marry, bringing marriage equality to America's heartland.  Iowa now joins Massachusetts and Connecticut in ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage.  The high court decision in Varnum v. Brien states, "Society benefits, for example, from providing same-sex couples a stable framework within which to raise their children and the power to make health care and end-of-life decisions for loved ones, just as it does when that framework is provided for opposite-sex couples."

"There's a rainbow over Iowa today, and marriage equality has come to America's heartland," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry.  "The Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous willingness to do its job faithfully will give Americans yet another opportunity to experience what they've already begun to see in Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, South Africa, and much of Europe-the lived reality that ending exclusion from marriage helps families and harms no one."  

The Iowa Supreme Court is the fourth state high court to uphold the freedom to marry under the state constitution.  The Court continued Iowa's history of leadership in civil rights, which includes being among the first to eliminate the ban on interracial marriages, recognize the rights of married women, and desegregate schools.  

"Thanks to this unanimous ruling, more committed couples and their kids will have their families strengthened and their lives enriched, without taking anything away from anyone else," Wolfson said.  "Iowa showed the nation today that there is enough marriage for all of us to share."

Freedom to Marry salutes the leadership of Lambda Legal, who represented six same-sex couples in this case, and One Iowa, which has brought together a gay and non-gay coalition to build support for marriage equality in Iowa.  To celebrate this momentous day in Iowa, join One Iowa for rallies across the state:

Momentum for the freedom to marry continues across the nation.  Vermont's Senate last night joined the House in overwhelmingly voting for a bill to end marriage discrimination, which now goes to the governor.  New Hampshire's House of Representatives passed a marriage bill in March, which now awaits a vote in the Senate.  Maine's legislature will hold hearings  this month on a marriage bill, and the California Supreme Court  is weighing a challenge to the discriminatory Proposition 8, brought by a broad array of civil rights and other groups.  

Freedom to Marry wrote an amicus brief in the Varnum v. Brien case which can be viewed here:

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Freedom to Marry is the gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. Headed by Evan Wolfson, one of America's leading civil rights advocates and lawyers, Freedom to Marry brings new resources and a renewed context of urgency and opportunity to this social justice movement.


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