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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The 10 biggest Iowa political blunders of 2011

Let’s review the most boneheaded moves from the year in Iowa politics.

This thread is not about wrongheaded policy choices. It may be stupid to cut early childhood education programs, kneecap the state Environmental Protection Commission, or pass an “ag gag” bill that would never survive a court challenge. Yet all of those actions carry potential political benefits, since they appeal to well-funded interest groups or a large group of voters.

My top ten list of Iowa politicians’ mistakes is after the jump.

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Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2012

The November special election in Iowa Senate district 18 confirmed that Democrats will maintain a 26 to 24 majority in the upper chamber during the legislature’s 2012 session, set to begin on January 9.

Senate Democrats and Republicans recently announced updated committee assignments. Majority and minority leadership teams are after the jump, along with all members of standing committees. I’ve also noted which senators are up for re-election in 2012 and which are retiring next year.

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