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April 27, 2009


This morning Melisa Keeton and Shelley Wolfe became the first legally married gay couple in the state of Iowa.

Although the new marriage law requires a 3 day waiting period after being granted a marriage license, Melisa and Shelley were able to successfully appeal that requirement earlier this morning and obtained a waiver from a local judge. The nuptials were performed by pastor Pat Esperanaza in a ceremony in front of the Polk County administrative offices in Des Moines.

Iowa also has no prohibition against out of state residents obtaining marriage licenses and getting married there. So, early this morning two Nebraskan women, Sarah Fentress and Bambi Smith, crossed into Iowa and were the first people in line at the Pottawattamie County Courthouse. They arrived around 6:15 a.m. and waited almost two hours for the Recorder Department to open for business.

“We’re very excited to be here,” Fentress said. “It means a lot to us, our children, our family as a whole.”

According to the Lincoln Journal Star:

The people waiting in line cheered at 8 a.m., when George Farrage, first deputy recorder, came out of the office with the signed Iowa Supreme Court order that states the Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution.

“Let’s go,” Smith said eagerly.

Fentress said she and Smith realized they were not Iowans, and their marriage would not be valid back in Nebraska.

“Maybe one day we’ll get sick of it and move to Iowa,” she said.

An AP story posted at Yahoo News reported that:

The Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous and emphatic decision on April 3 made Iowa the third state to allow same-sex marriage, joining Massachusetts and Connecticut. Vermont passed a law that will take effect in September.

...The court issued an order Monday [today] confirming that the appeals process in the case has officially concluded.

Gay marriage opponents have no other legal options to appeal the case to the state or federal level because they were not parties to the lawsuit, and there is no federal issue raised in the case.

Their only recourse appears to be a constitutional amendment, which couldn't get on the ballot until 2012 at the earliest. A constitutional convention could be called earlier, but is unlikely.

CONGRATULATIONS to all of the Iowan newlyweds and to Iowa itself for showing such a strong and unequivocal commitment to justice and equality.

Oh, BTW - despite the strong-arm tactics of religious right-wingnuts who tried pressuring county recorders to join them and refuse to issue the new marriage licenses, there were no reports of even a single recorder refusing to issue the applications. Gay marriages - 1, wingnuts - 0!