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Iowa's Supremacist Judges Overturn State Law and Okay Gay Marriage

April 3, 2009

Washington, D.C.-Eagle Forum, a leading conservative grassroots organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly, condemns the activist decision of the Iowa Supreme Court which ruled unanimously today that the state law prohibiting same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.  The case, Varnum v. Brien (2005), was brought by six same-sex Iowa couples who sued Polk County Recorder Timothy Brien after his office denied them marriage licenses on the basis that Iowa's decade-old state law recognizes marriage only between one man and one woman.

Because the justices ruled that gay marriage should be legal in Iowa, this means that out-of-state same-sex couples could flock to Iowa to get married, as Iowa has no residency requirements for a marriage license.  In May 2008, when the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage, homosexual marriage opponents quickly struck back by working to get a November ballot initiative (Proposition 8) which passed and effectively amended the state Constitution to uphold a one man-one woman law.  However, in Iowa, such a constitutional change would face additional hurdles, such as approval by the state legislature in two consecutive legislative sessions, with a subsequent ballot initiative which receives a popular vote.

"This decision should be a wake-up call to Americans that traditional marriage is under assault not only in liberal havens, like Massachusetts and California, but also in traditionally conservative states," said Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly. "The American people will not continue to stand by silently in the face of more and more of these activist court rulings that openly defy the will of the people."

"Over the past few decades, many of the most far-reaching social, economic, and political decisions have been made by judges rather than elected representatives," Schlafly said.  "Only elected representatives have the power to make laws, not judges."

"We can never allow the definition of marriage to simply mean two consenting persons who agree to share quarters and start applying to the government for benefits," concluded Schlafly.  "Eagle Forum calls on the Iowa state legislature to work to adopt a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman only, and by subsequently passing a state law that withdraws jurisdiction from the state courts over this issue."

Eagle Forum advocates a multi-faceted strategy to protect marriage.  While a constitutional amendment is ultimately necessary to protect marriage from activist judges, it remains a long process requiring a super-majority in Congress and then ratification by 38 states. Although removing jurisdiction from federal courts over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) would provide immediate protection for marriage, as it only requires a majority of Congress, Eagle Forum continues to work for a significant constitutional amendment
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