A group of outraged activists is launching a drive to try impeach the judge that handed down the August 31st opinion which, briefly, legalized gay marriage in Iowa.
District Court Judge Robert Hanson ruled the state law restricting marriages in Iowa to those between a man and woman was unconstitutional. A day later — before Hanson himself put a stay on that decision — dozens of gay couples applied for marriage licenses in Polk County and two men from Ames married.
Bill Salier of Nora Springs, a co-founder of the group "Everyday America," says Hanson should be impeached. "He has clearly overstepped his constitutional bounds when he has legislated from the bench," Salier says. Salier and his group are urging legislators in the Iowa House and Senate as well as the governor to react to Hanson’s decision by impeaching the judge.
"He’s using his own political agenda to advance what he wants to see out of his own social norms and his own personal viewpoints," Salier says. "That’s legislating from the bench and overriding the authority of the elected individuals that the people of the state of Iowa put in charge."
On September 1st, dozens of gay couples applied for marriage licenses in Polk County and two men from Ames got another judge to issue them a waiver so they could immediately be married. Salier says both judges need to be kicked off the bench, and impeachment is the means to that end. "It’s a mess beyond all portion all because they decided they were going to take the will of the people and they were going to take the law of the legislature and thwart it for their own agenda," Salier says.
Salier’s "Everyday America" group started up this summer and it has a website, www.everydayamerica.com , where people can sign the petition calling for the judge’s impeachment. "This is an attempt to bring the judiciary back into check underneath its constitutional moorings and we’re going to take this petition drive….to the leadership of the both the Republican Party and the Democrat Party in the House and Senate as well as the governor and encourage them to reestablish themselves as the leaders of the law in this state — the ones who actually create the law in this state," Salier says.
If impeachment fails, Salier says there’ll be a drive to unseat Judge Hanson in 2010 when he faces a retention election. A few years back a bid failed in Iowa to use a judicial retention election to unseat a Sioux City judge that had approved divorce papers for a gay couple that had obtained a civil union in another state.