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Iowa Gays Sue To Marry


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Iowa Gays Sue To Marry

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: December 13, 2005 1:00 pm ET

(Des Moines, Iowa) Six same-sex couples filed suit Tuesday in Polk County seeking to have Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act struck down.

"This lawsuit is about fairness and equality," said Lambda Legal attorney Camilla Taylor who is representing the couples.

"Since marriage is the way the government provides protection, support and respect for families, it is only fair that these couples be able to marry."

The suit argues that under the equal protection and due process guarantees in the Iowa State Constitution it is unlawful to bar same-sex couples from marrying. Since the lawsuit is based on state law, the Iowa Supreme Court will have the final word on the outcome of this case.

"Without marriage, there is no way for me to declare who Trish is in my life," said Kate Varnum, a plaintiff in the case. "We want our family to be protected and treated fairly."

Kate Varnum, 31, and her partner Trish Hyde, 40, have been in a committed relationship for nearly five years.

They live six blocks away from Kate's childhood home, in Cedar Rapids and go to the church Kate grew up attending. They are conflicted when filling out forms because they can't accurately check either the "single" or "married" box. Kate says, "Without marriage there is no way for me to declare who Trish is in my life."

Dennis Johnson, former Solicitor General of Iowa, and now in private practice is working with Lambda on the case.

"Same-sex couples who are ready and willing to take on the responsibilities that come with marriage should have that opportunity," Johnson told a Des Moines news conference Tuesday.

David Twombley, 64, and Larry Hoch, 63, are another of the couples in the lawsuit. Both retired teachers they have been in a committed relationship for over four years.

They said they want to get married because as they age they increasingly feel vulnerable and wonder if their wishes will be respected during medical emergencies.

Another of the couples, Dawn and Jen BarbouRoske, 37 and 35 respectively, of Iowa City, have been together for over 15 years and have two children, McKinley, 7, and Breeanna, 3.

Together, they formed a playgroup for gay and lesbian families called Proud Families, and both serve as Girl Scouts leaders.

After Jen delivered McKinley eight weeks early, they realized that Dawn could be prevented from being with their daughter in the hospital because she was not legally related to either Jen or the baby - making an already stressful time more traumatic.

Because they were not married, they had to leave their daughter in the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital to seek the help of an attorney to draw up documents to protect Dawn's rights. This experience highlighted for them just how important it is to be able to marry.

Also involved in the suit are Ingrid Olson, 27, and Reva Evans, 31, of Council Bluffs, who have been together for nearly eight years; Jason Morgan, 35, and Chuck Swaggerty, 33, of Sioux City, a couple for eight years; and Bill Musser, 47, and Otter Dreaming, 48, of Decorah, who have been together for over four years.

The suit is the latest in a number of challenges to laws preventing same-sex marriage throughout the country.

While Iowa already has a Defense of Marriage Act that denies same-sex couples the right to marry, an attempt to pass a constitutional amendment to block gay marriage died in the legislature earlier this year.

©365Gay.com 2005


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