People from both sides in the case that seeks to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage say they were pleased with oral arguments presented to the Iowa Supreme Court today.
Des Moines attorney Dennis Johnson represents the six couples who filed the lawsuit.
"I have to say that the Iowa Supreme Court justices were very well prepared, it’s clear that they’ve read the briefs and the cases and considered everything carefully, that’s all we can ask," Johnson says. "We’ll just have to wait and see what they do." The justices expanded the normal 10-minute time limit for oral arguments to 30 minutes and then allowed each side to go over their time as the justices asked numerous questions. Johnson says that was surprising.
"I’ve never seen it happen with the Iowa Supreme Court, but I think they’re real interested in hearing about what we had to say about everything," Johnson says. Johnson doesn’t know how the extra time will impact the final decision. "I can’t read too much into it about predicting which way they will go, but the fact that they asked that many questions is very unusual," Johnson says. According to Johnson, the judges asked many questions about Iowa and other court cases which Johnson says they don’t normally do.
Several same-sex couples talked with the media after the arguments. Dawn and Jen BarbouRoske of Iowa City were on hand with their 10-year-old daughter McKinley. Dawn BarbouRoske said they’ve been together for 18 years. She says they planned their family and are very loving and "we are confident the court will recognize the fact that we are a loving family that, that needs the loving legal marriage."
McKinley BarbouRoske also spoke. She said she’s "in a very good family" and loves her parents and is proud of them. Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan of Ames, the only Iowa gay couple to get married before the case went to the Supreme Court, were also on hand. McQuillan talked with reporters.
"This case really is crucial to the stability of our families and we just hope that these couples here are able to share in the rights and responsibilities that we already do," McQuillen said.
On the other side of the issue, Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center was happy with the way the case went. Hurley says while he doesn’t pretend to speak for Kuhl, Hurley said he was impressed with the Supreme Court’s questions on both sides, and he expects a very "learned and fair decision from them." Doug Berry of the Cornerstone Family Church also watched the arguments.
"I know this has become an emotional thing and it seems to be about the rights of the few, and you we parade people up here and we feel sorry and we become all emotional about this," Berry said. "But the reality is, this isn’t about the rights of a small minority group of people here. This is about marriage itself."
Berry told reporters the case has some big implications. "This is about redefining marriage, and if we do this, we are on a slippery slope. We’re trying to help people, our religious liberties are at stake. The redefining of marriage leads to the redefining of other things, the role of male, female, family," Berry said. "And we need to take this very seriously."
Hurley and Berry both say regardless of what happens in this case, they will continue pushing to get an amendment to Iowa’s constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Berry said that would give Iowans a voice in the issue.
"Here we are standing in front of seven people today that are the verge of redefining marriage and what it is, a millennial institution,"Berry said. He said it will not only impact the state, but gay people from all over the country can come to Iowa and get married. Berry and Hurley said it’s time for Governor Culver to step up and follow through on his comments that he supports marriage between a man and a woman by pushing for the constitutional amendment.