There were no reports of county recorders denying marriage applications to gay couples in Iowa Monday. Hundreds of same sex couples applied for marriage licenses on the first day they could do so following the April 3rd Iowa Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage.
Johnson County Recorder Kim Painter actually encouraged same sex couples to apply for a license. Painter, who is openly gay, greeted and took pictures with couples before the recorder’s office opened.
In February 2004, 52 same sex couples applied for marriage licenses in Johnson County. Painter says she considered granting them illegally, but did not.
“My particular position as an openly gay elected official led me to believe in part that those who sought office as openly gay candidates would have a terrible time if I had chosen to break the law and break the oath of office because of something I dearly wanted,” Painter said. “You can not do that, I can not stand here and enforce laws as I wish them to be. I have to do what the law says.”
Although Painter did not grant marriage licenses more than five years ago, she says the controversial event initiated meaningful discussions about same sex marriage. “I think it changed attitudes and it helped shift the dynamic in Iowa and the dialogue in Iowa,” Painter said. In Johnson County, at least two waivers to the three day waiting period were granted Monday, allowing those couples to marry immediately. Painter plans to marry her partner in the fall, but for now is satisfied signing the licenses of other same sex couples.
“To just be able to walk up to my counter and sign those license forms is amazing,” Painter said. At least a couple dozen same sex couples from outside of the state got marriage licenses Monday. George Farrage , the top deputy in the Pottawattamie County Recorder’s Office, says since the county sits on Iowa’s western border, there is interest from gay couples in states to the west.
“We’ve had inquiries from other states such as Missouri and Kansas and Colorado and places of that nature,” Farrage said. In Council Bluffs, two women from Nebraska were married Monday by a magistrate. Toni Heard and Michelle McBride received a waiver from the usual three-day waiting period because of medical issues.