Day One: Marriage equality officially begins in Iowa!
April 27, 2009
Today is the first day that gay and lesbian couples will be able to apply for marriage licenses in the state of Iowa! Most county recorder offices open at 8 a.m. CST this morning and, thanks to the April 3 Iowa Supreme Court ruling, two people are eligible to marry in Iowa if they are over 18 years old, not currently married, and pay a $35 registration fee. Couples do not have to be Iowa residents to marry in the state - but there is a three-day waiting period after applying for a license before marriages can occur. Lambda Legal has more information (PDF) on how to take advantage of marriage equality in Iowa. (A little background: HRC has been working in Iowa since 2006, and investing $110,000 to create and grow One Iowa as a strong voice for equality in the Heartland. One Iowa and HRC worked together to engage members and supporters in grassroots efforts to increase participation in the political process and speak out on issues of concern to the LGBT community. In elections that year, Democrats won control of the state House, and broke a tie in the Senate by gaining several new seats. HRC has staff on the ground right now helping to organize for marriage day and thank supportive legislators.) Zach Stewart, a member of our field team who's working in Iowa, will be a first-hand witness to history in the making. He sent us this quick note this morning at the start of this great day:
Out of the house, I grabbed some coffee on my way to the Recorder's office. I'm not sure how many people will come in early- especially fighting these April showers - but no matter what, today we are making history.
The recorder's office opens at 7:30 AM here in Des Moines. I expect there will be a lot of happy couples, proud parents, and excited children. We've got volunteers lined up across the state to answer questions and to show their support at the recorder's offices.
Iowa has had a long history of civil rights, and there is the undeniable feeling that Iowa is at the forefront of something big by becoming the third state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.
Today LGBT families in Iowa will finally have the legal dignity they deserve. Today is, and should be, a celebration!
*UPDATE - 8:03 AM CST: Doors just opened and our couples are heading in. Lots of media here and they went in too. The weather seems to be holding alright. We'll see if there is another rush again later this morning. *UPDATE - 9:55 AM: I'm watching the first couple getting married outside. There is lots of press of course but, even better, there are many Iowans here to show their support. People are bringing flowers and offering congratulations. There was a round of applause! One more happy couple that has been granted legal dignity... and all before 10AM! *UPDATE - 10:55 AM: Another couple is getting married! In talking to couples who have lived in Iowa for years, the sentiment is that Iowa is a well-kept secret. Some folks are transplants and some have been here their whole lives, but they all express one similar thought: something new for equality is happening today and we are here to see it! The pride of being an Iowan is all over them. On a personal note, I'm really glad to be here. I almost cried when I saw an older couple get married. It's a happy day. Yet it also brings me some sadness at the realization that so many people are forced to hide their relationships or are treated like second class citizens.... *UPDATE - 12:15 PM CST: Snapped a great photo of a couple, Lori and Karen (in the purple), who applied for their marriage license today. They have been together for 25 years!
*UPDATE - 2:50 PM: The recorder's office will close in a couple hours. At last count, there were 74 licenses given out today! (The previous record in Des Moines was 39 in one day.) Today we are making history on so many levels! Couples are walking out here and there with big smiles and flowers. Tonight's Marriage Day celebration with One Iowa should be a great success! *UPDATE - 4:00 PM CST: It's 4PM and the county recorder's office will close shortly. I just met Laura, a straight woman who came in with her two little kids and a bag full of candybars for new couples that had a simple message: "Congratulations! Please look past the thickness and denseness of others and enjoy the rich sweetness that will stay with you for a long time." It's great to see people from all over and all walks of life come in and say congratulations to new couples!
*UPDATE - 6:05 PM: Finally back at the office for a phone bank. As we are plugging through calls and talking to voters all over the state, I'm thinking about stories from the day. Lori and Karen, a committed couple of 25 years, finally got their license today. One couple got married and as a man hugged an older woman he said, "It's my new mother-in-law!" Everyone had a good laugh. Strangers were giving flowers to couples and offering their congratulations. One of our volunteers, Bob, went to a courthouse in rural Iowa and stayed all day in the face of over 50 protesters. Not a single couple showed up, and yet he stayed the whole day to show support. Tonight we continue to make calls to Iowans all over the state to gather support and to thank them for their help. Tonight we celebrate a happy day for so many couples and a big step forward for civil rights in the Midwest!
May 22, 2013