Iowa's ban on same-sex marriage overturned 10 years ago today


It was 10 years ago — on April 3, 2009 — that the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The Varnum decision, named for lead plaintiffs Kate and Trish Varnum of Cedar Rapids, made Iowa the first in the Midwest to legalize same-sex marriage and the third in the United States, joining Massachusetts and Connecticut.


The case was brought by six same-sex couples who argued that Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Law violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the Iowa Constitution. They sued Polk County Recorder Timothy Brien in 2005 after his office denied them marriage licenses.

Related Todd Dorman column

So it was 10 years ago this week that the Iowa Supreme Court struck down Iowa's ban on same-sex marriage. With our current news cycle so jammed with distractions, I nearly forgot.

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While the Varnum ruling was a huge win for proponents of same-sex marriage in Iowa, it would be another six years before the U.S. Supreme Court would rule in favor of marriage equality nationwide.


To mark the 10-year anniversary of the Iowa ruling, here’s a look at The Gazette’s front page after the decision and photos from celebrations that day.