10 years of marriage equality in Iowa

Ten years ago today, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously held in Varnum v Brien that the state’s Defense of Marriage Act “violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution.”

Justice Mark Cady wrote the opinion, which cost three of his colleagues (Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice David Baker, and Justice Michael Streit) their jobs in the 2010 judicial retention elections. Assigned the task of writing by random drawing, Cady “strongly believed the court should speak in one voice” on such a controversial matter, Tom Witosky and Marc Hansen wrote in their 2015 book Equal Before the Law: How Iowa Led Americans to Marriage Equality. In fact, Cady “was convinced there was no room for even a concurring opinion–an opinion in agreement with the court’s conclusion but not its reasoning.” (pp. 134-5)

Thousands of Iowans have enjoyed a better quality of life since our state became the third to give LGBTQ couples the right to marry. Lambda Legal, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of six Iowa couples, has posted a timeline of key events in the case. State Senator Zach Wahls wrote today about the Supreme Court decision’s impact on his family.

I wanted to mark this day by sharing highlights from Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of that historic event. My deepest condolences go out to the friends and relatives of former Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht. The Iowa Judicial Branch announced today that Hecht has died. He stepped down from the bench in December 2018 while battling melanoma. Of the seven justices who joined the Varnum opinion, only Cady, Brent Appel, and David Wiggins still serve on the high court.

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Our new year of progress

On Wednesday, January 2 2019, Linn County Supervisor-elect Stacey Walker was sworn into office and voted chair of the new three-member board. Walker is the first African American to hold the position and serve as chairperson of the governing body of Iowa’s second most populous county. After he was sworn in, he shared the following remarks. -promoted by Laura Belin

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2017 guest authors

Bleeding Heartland published 140 guest posts by 81 authors in 2016, a record since the blog’s creation in 2007.

I’m happy to report that the bar has been raised: 83 authors contributed 164 guest posts to this website during 2017. Their work covered an incredible range of local, statewide, and national topics.

Some contributors drew on their professional expertise and research, writing in a detached and analytical style. Others produced passionate and intensely personal commentaries, sometimes drawing on painful memories or family history.

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Abby Finkenauer "welcomes" Thomas Heckroth to IA-01 race with cheap shot

Thomas Heckroth joined the field of Democratic challengers to Representative Rod Blum in Iowa’s first Congressional district yesterday, calling for policies that “start investing in people” to create an “economy that values work more than wealth.”

Heckroth has been considering the race for several months. On his first day as a candidate, he stopped in Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Waverly, talking about his vision and criticizing Blum’s votes for the Republican health care bill and for rolling back key financial reforms in the law known as Dodd-Frank.

Before Heckroth launched his website and released an announcement video, Iowa political reporters heard he was running for Congress from an Abby Finkenauer press release, which portrayed her newest primary rival as not Iowan enough.

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