Iowa Ruling Teases Californians Still Working on Prop. H8

Same-sex marriage advocates in California were whooping and hollering as the Iowa Supreme Court overturned that state’s law banning the practice.

(You can see my earlier post about Iowa here.)

But as those advocates argued the Iowa ruling’s language shores up their California case, same-sex marriage opponents argued the cases are not as similar as they seem.

In an interview with the Oakland Tribune, National Center for Lesbian Rights legal director Shannon Minter, who argued before the California Supreme Court last month, acknowledged that the two cases’ issues “are not identical, but the Iowa Supreme Court emphasizes that equal protection is an essential principle that defines the ‘blueprint’ of our government, which is the foundation of our argument in the Prop 8 case.”

“A measure that changes something so essential to our existing form of government is, by definition, too significant to be a mere ‘amendment,'” he said, echoing his argument to the state Supreme Court that Prop. 8 had to
have been a constitutional revision requiring legislative votes to be placed on the ballot rather than just petition signatures.

“It’s obviously not relevant to the current California case,” said Andy Pugno, general counsel for the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.

Iowa’s court also held that a separate status other than marriage for same-sex couples can’t be considered equal, Minter said. “The fact that two state supreme courts, including now a court in the heartland of our country, have now followed the California Supreme Court’s holding on that issue underscores very powerfully that the court cannot back away from that holding “… without undermining its credibility and stature,” he said.

Pugno acknowledged there’s been a pattern of state supreme courts interpreting their constitutions to permit same-sex marriage, but also a pattern of voters subsequently amending those constitutions to forbid it. “They may do exactly the same in Iowa now.


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