A report from the Iowa Department of Public Health shows nearly 60% of the same sex couples married in Iowa over the last year were from out of state. An Iowa Supreme Court ruling in April of 2009 made Iowa the first state in the Midwest to legalize gay marriage.
Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, says he’s not surprised by the numbers. “Since the ruling occurred in April of 2009, we were immediately flooded for the first month with phone calls from around the country, wanting to get the particulars as it relates to being married in Iowa,” Schamberger said.
Groups from other states have brought busloads of same-sex couples to Iowa City to be married, according to Schamberger. He says his staff has worked with local hotels and other businesses that provide wedding services.
Chris Diebel runs a website to help same-sex couples find caterers and other wedding-related vendors. He’s also not surprised with the number of couples coming to Iowa to wed. “There’s the ease of travel and the ease on the wallet of doing that in Iowa,” Diebel said. “Certainly planning a wedding in the Midwest, regardless of your sexuality, is going to be cheaper in a city like Des Moines or a state like Iowa than it would be in a major metropolitan area.”
Overall, 2,020 same-sex marriages were recorded in Iowa between April 2009 and March 2010. Only 815 of the couples were from Iowa. Most of the gay couples from out-of-state came from Illinois (199), Missouri (158) and Nebraska (111).