Iowa High Court Legalizes Gay Marriage

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Same-sex marriage is now legal in America's heartland.

The Iowa Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage Friday morning, ruling that it violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples. The unanimous ruling upheld a lower court's ruling that the law violated the state constitution.

Click play for more insight on the ruling with CBN News Reporter Efrem Graham and Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defense Fund.

"The court reaffirmed that a statute inconsistent with the Iowa constitution must be declared void even though it may be supported by strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion," the judges wrote in a summary of the decision.

Read the IA law that the court struck down

Critics call the ruling a failure to uphold Iowa's values.

"It is a travesty that the Courts have trampled upon the voices and values of the people of Iowa by failing to uphold the people's intent to protect traditional marriage through the legislature's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)," a statement released by Concerned Women for America said.

"Equally disappointing is the fact that this could have been totally avoided if the Iowa legislators would have listened to the people of Iowa rather than political interest groups and provided for a State Amendment protecting marriage when then-Rep. Danny Carroll began the process in 2005," CWA said.

Friday's decision stems from a 2005 lawsuit filed by a New York-based gay rights organization on behalf of six gay and lesbian Iowa couples who were denied marriage licenses.

The decision will take about 21 days to be considered final. That means it will be at least several weeks before gay and lesbian couples can seek marriage licenses.

Currently, gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Gay marriage was also legal in California for a short time before voters overturned the state's supreme court decision last November.

This ruling makes Iowa the third state where gay marriage is legal, however, that could soon change.

In Vermont, another gay marriage showdown is underway on Friday.

The Vermont House of Representatives voted Thursday to replace civil unions with full marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

The bill includes an amendment exempting churches from having to allow gay weddings at their facilities.

The House must vote on the bill again today, but Gov. Jim Douglas has promised to veto the measure if it passes.

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