HRC Congratulates Iowa Justices on JFK Courage Award

by Charles Joughin

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today commended the three Iowa Supreme Court Justices set to receive the 2012 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for their judicial independence. Former Iowa Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and former Justices David Baker and Michael Streit ruled in favor of marriage equality three years ago and, as a result, came under fire by the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage during their retention elections. All three refused to mount a counter-campaign believing it would send the wrong message to litigants who may appear in court before them.

"Even with their jobs on the line, the justices stood firm for an independent judiciary," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "They put principle over politics, and are supremely deserving of this award. NOM should still be ashamed of themselves for running a campaign seeking revenge on these judges for making well-reasoned, constitutional arguments extending marriage equality."

During the last election cycle, all three justices lost their races. NOM's $600,000 campaign to oust them had nothing to do with marriage in the Hawkeye State – marriage for gay and lesbian couples remains legal there. Instead, NOM’s campaign was meant to send a chilling warning to judges across the country: rule the way we want you to or we will come after you.

  On Monday, Caroline Kennedy, President of the Kennedy Library Foundation, will honor the justices with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. The award is presented to public servants who have demonstrated the courage of their convictions "without regard for the personal or professional consequences."   The ceremony will be webcast live at beginning at 11:00 a.m. on May 7.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2009 to allow committed gay and lesbian couples to marry. The deliberative decision was consistent with Supreme Court rulings in California, Massachusetts and Connecticut.  

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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