Here are my notes on highlights of the Iowa Supreme Court ruling, along with some relevant quotations. You should read the whole thing yourself, of course, but I thought a cheat-sheet about which sections you could skip and which ones you really must read would be helpful.
7-11 on why marriage is important to everyone
11-16 on the responsibility of the court (very eloquent)
16-18 looking at previous court decisions that the citizenry didn’t like, but were the right thing to do,
28 ending with no-nonsense reasoning for the plaintiffs
Therefore, with respect to the subject and purposes of Iowa’s marriage laws, we find that the plaintiffs are similarly situated compared to heterosexual persons. Plaintiffs are in committed and loving relationships, many raising families, just like heterosexual couples. Moreover, official recognition of their status provides an institutional basis for defining their fundamental relational rights and responsibilities, just as it does for heterosexual couples. Society benefits, for example, from providing samesex couples a stable framework within which to raise their children and the power to make health care and end-of-life decisions for loved ones, just as it does when that framework is provided for opposite-sex couples. In short, for purposes of Iowa’s marriage laws, which are designed to bring a sense of order to the legal relationships of committed couples and their families in myriad ways, plaintiffs are similarly situated in every important respect, but for their sexual orientation.
29-49 background on LGBTQ issues and equal protection considerations (I’d skip it if I were you, unless you’re a lawyer)
49, section H through the end — a point-by-point rebuttal of the government’s argument against same-sex marriage (must read)
a. 52 maintaining traditional marriage (govt’s argument is circular reasoning, and thus invalid)
b. 54 Promotion of optimal environment to raise children.
If the marriage statute was truly focused on optimal parenting, many classifications of people would be excluded, not merely gay and lesbian people.” and “The ban on same-sex civil marriage can only logically be justified as a means to ensure the asserted optimal environment for raising children if fewer children will be raised within same-sex relationships or more children will be raised in dual-gender marriages. Yet, the same-sex-marriage ban will accomplish these outcomes only when people in same-sex relationships choose not to raise children without the benefit of marriage or when children are adopted by dual-gender couples who would have been adopted by same-sex couples but for the same-sex civil marriage ban. We discern no substantial support for this proposition.
c. 59 promotion of procreation.
Conceptually, the promotion of procreation as an objective of marriage is compatible with the inclusion of gays and lesbians within the definition of marriage. Gay and lesbian persons are capable of procreation. Thus, the sole conceivable avenue by which exclusion of gay and lesbian people from civil marriage could promote more procreation is if the unavailability of civil marriage for same-sex partners caused homosexual individuals to “become” heterosexual in order to procreate within the present traditional institution of civil marriage. The briefs, the record, our research, and common sense do not suggest such an outcome.
d. 60 promoting stability in opposite-sex relationships.
While the institution of civil marriage likely encourages stability in opposite-sex relationships, we must evaluate whether excluding gay and lesbian people from civil marriage encourages stability in oppositesex relationships. The County offers no reasons that it does, and we can find none.
e. 60 conservation of resources. (very interesting arguent by the government).
The argument is based on a simple premise: couples who are married enjoy numerous governmental benefits, so the state’s fiscal burden associated with civil marriage is reduced if less people are allowed to marry. In the common sense of the word, then, it is “rational” for the legislature to seek to conserve state resources by limiting the number of couples allowed to form civil marriages.
And yes, marriage reduces tax revenues and costs the state something. But…
Excluding any group from civil marriage—African-Americans, illegitimates, aliens, even red-haired individuals—would conserve state resources in an equally “rational” way. Yet, such classifications so obviously offend our society’s collective sense of equality that courts have not hesitated to provide added protections against such inequalities.
63 Religious Opposition. This is forbidden in the Iowa constitution, but we think it probably was the real reason for the unconstitional law instead of the 5 reasons given above. But religious institutions hold very different opinions about same-sex marriage:
This contrast of opinions in our society largely explains the absence of any religion-based rationale to test the constitutionality of Iowa’s same-sex marriage ban.
The statute at issue in this case does not prescribe a definition of marriage for religious institutions. Instead, the statute declares, “Marriage is a civil contract” and then regulates that civil contract. Iowa Code § 595A.1. Thus, in pursuing our task in this case, we proceed as civil judges, far removed from the theological debate of religious clerics, and focus only on the concept of civil marriage and the state licensing system that identifies a limited class of persons entitled to secular rights and benefits associated with civil marriage.
and the conclusion that religious institutions may define religious marriage any way they want to, but the state treats civil marriage as a contract, and that’s the only marriage the state is considering, page 66:
In the final analysis, we give respect to the views of all Iowans on the issue of same-sex marriage—religious or otherwise—by giving respect to our constitutional principles. These principles require that the state recognize both opposite-sex and same-sex civil marriage. Religious doctrine and views contrary to this principle of law are unaffected, and people can continue to associate with the religion that best reflects their views. A religious denomination can still define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and a marriage ceremony performed by a minister, priest, rabbi, or other person ordained or designated as a leader of the person’s religious faith does not lose its meaning as a sacrament or other religious institution. The sanctity of all religious marriages celebrated in the future will have the same meaning as those celebrated in the past. The only difference is civil marriage will now take on a new meaning that reflects a more complete understanding of equal protection of the law. This result is what our constitution requires.