Thursday, April 23, 2009

Iowa Atty. Gen. Orders County Clerks to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has warned county clerks in that state they do not have the authority to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Unfortunately, such an order became necessary when Republican state Sen. Merlin Bartz and the Iowa Family Policy Center started a petition drive to convince the county clerks to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses in defiance of the Iowa Supreme Court ruling. They're urging citizens to deliver the signed petitions to all 99 county recorder offices on Monday, the day the ruling takes effect, telling them they're justified to refuse licenses as a "matter of conscience." (Read the heinous petition - PDF download)

“We expect duly-elected county recorders to comply with the Iowa Constitution as interpreted unanimously by the Iowa Supreme Court, the highest court in Iowa,” Miller said in a statement to the Iowa Independent. “Our country lives by and thrives by the rule of law, and the rule of law means we all follow the law as interpreted by our courts - not by ourselves. We don’t each get to decide what the law is; that would lead to chaos. We must live by and follow what the courts decide.”

Miller also said that any county recorder that doesn’t abide by the Court’s ruling would be in violation of the law and face removal from office. “Recorders do not have discretion or power to ignore the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling. If necessary, we will explore legal actions to enforce and implement the Court’s ruling, working with the Iowa Department of Public Health and county attorneys.”

Read the attorney general's full statement.


"The Iowa Department of Public Health, which registers marriages in the state, has begun sending county clerks new gender neutral marriage license application forms.

"Same-sex couples can begin issuing the forms on Monday, the date imposed by the Iowa Supreme Court when it struck down the state ban on gay marriage on April 3.

"The old forms had spaces for the “Groom” and “Bride” to fill in. The new forms refer only to “Party A” and Party B”.

"But the forms will also provide an option for traditional opposite-sex couples - allowing them to tick off a box identifying them as bride and groom."

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