Line at County Recorder’s Office shows need for marriage equality

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New York-based Lambda Legal says the gay couples that lined up outside the Polk County Recorder’s office at the end of last week show how important marriage equality is to same-sex couples in Iowa.

“We are deeply moved by how many same-sex couples rushed to the Recorder’s office to apply for marriage licenses,” Camilla Taylor, senior staff attorney in the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal and counsel for the six couples in the lawsuit, said in a release.

“Same- sex couples all across Iowa woke up Thursday morning believing they might never be allowed to marry in their home state, and by the end of the day, a wonderful world had opened up for them.

“The six same-sex couples and their families that we represent in the lawsuit embody what we know to be a great need for marriage equality throughout the state of Iowa and that belief has been very clearly illustrated by today’s events outside the recorder’s office,” she added.

Yesterday the Iowa District Court for Polk County said that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry based on the Iowa Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. The lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal in December 2005 on behalf of six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Iowa, arguing that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates the equal protection and due process guarantees in the Iowa Constitution, and prevents these couples from taking care of each other and their children.

The plaintiffs in this case include: Kate, 34, and Trish Varnum, 42, of Cedar Rapids, who have been in a committed relationship for nearly seven years.

In addition to the Varnums are David Twombley, 66, and Larry Hoch, 65, of Urbandale, both retired teachers who have been in a committed relationship for over six years; Dawn and Jen BarbouRoske, 39 and 37 respectively, of Iowa City, who have been together for more than 17 years and their two children, McKinley, 9, and Breeanna, 5; Ingrid Olson, 29, and Reva Evans, 33, of Council Bluffs, who have been together for nearly 10 years and their son, Jamison, 1; Jason Morgan, 37, and Chuck Swaggerty, 35, of Sioux City, who have been together for 10 years; and Bill Musser, 49, and Otter Dreaming, 50, of Decorah, who have been together for over six years.

Camilla Taylor and Kenneth Upton Jr., senior staff attorneys at Lambda Legal, are handling the case. They are joined by former Iowa Solicitor General Dennis Johnson of Dorsey and Whitney in Des Moines. The case is Varnum v. Brien.

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