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Family Equality Council Thrilled by Historic Iowa Marriage Ruling
Family Equality Council Thrilled by Historic Iowa Marriage Ruling
Statements from Executive Director, Jennifer Chrisler, and Iowa LGBT parent and professor, Sandi Patton-Imani

Boston, MA - Today the Iowa Supreme Court issued a landmark, unanimous ruling in Varnum v. Brien, a case involving six same-sex couples who sought and were denied marriage licenses in Iowa. In 2007, Polk County Judge Robert Hanson ruled that the license denials were unconstitutional and struck down Iowa's 1998 so-called "Defense of Marriage Act," which prohibited the state from marrying same-sex couples. One couple was legally wed before Judge Hanson stayed his ruling, pending appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court. Today's Supreme Court decision upholds Judge Hanson's ruling and will go into effect in twenty one days.

Demographics compiled by the Williams Institute show approximately 5,800 same-sex couples living in Iowa. Twenty-percent of these couples are raising children in their homes. Marriage discrimination contributes to same-sex couples' comparatively lower household incomes, despite their higher than average rates of employment in Iowa. Today's ruling goes a long way to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iowans in a time when all families are struggling greatly.

Statement of Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director, Family Equality Council:

"The Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous, pro-equality ruling in Varnum v. Brien reminds us what's at stake in the struggle for equal marriage 'families' abilities to care for and protect themselves. Thousands of LGBT families in Iowa are raising children. These children deserve the same recognition and respect that children of other married parents get. I'm very proud that Family Equality Council has actively supported LGBT families in Iowa leading up to the Court's decision. Working with state partners, we will continue to prepare our Iowa families for any backlash that may come. We are building a coalition of national, state, and local family groups to support Iowa efforts; providing extensive spokesperson training to put the power of our families to work; and training our colleagues on family-centered approaches to grassroots organizing, ensuring that the families most affected by this ruling are involved in the process of ensuring its permanence."

Statement of Sandi Patton-Imani, LGBT parent and professor, Des Moines, Iowa:

"Our family is celebrating with great joy at finally being granted full civil rights by the state we live in! My partner, Melanie, and I entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2000. We have two children together, but because Iowa has not recognized our union, we have not been able to fully protect our family. We look forward to having both of our names listed on our children's birth certificates, as they should be, as their parents. Now we move forward, working to ensure equality for families in all fifty states.

EDITORS: To book an interview with Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council, or Sandi Patton-Imani, LGBT Iowa parent, please call or email the media contact listed above.

About Family Equality Council

The Family Equality Council works to ensure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parents by building community, changing hearts and minds, and advancing social justice for all families. For more information, please visit www.familyequality.org.

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