Skip to main content
Hero Image

News & Media

Iowa Supreme Court rules to redefine marriage

High court strikes down Iowa Defense of Marriage Act; ADF attorneys filed friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of state legislators
Published On: 10/18/2017

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Supreme Court struck down the state’s Defense of Marriage Act in a ruling Friday that declared it to be in conflict with the state constitution.  ADF attorneys represent Iowa state legislators who filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the high court in defense of the act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman--the same definition that has existed for the entire history of the state.

“The Iowa marriage law was simple, settled, and overwhelmingly supported by Iowans.  There was simply no legitimate reason for the court to redefine marriage,” said long-time Iowa attorney and ADF Senior Legal Counsel Douglas Napier.  “The court stepped outside of its proper role of interpreting the law and has instead overruled the will of the people and created new law.  Marriage as one man and one woman has been the law in Iowa for 170 years.  The Defense of Marriage Act was nearly unanimously supported by the legislature when it was passed.  It was supported by the governor and a majority of Iowans.”

“Now it’s time for the Iowa Legislature to allow the people to vote on marriage as one man and one woman by placing a marriage amendment on the ballot.  Let Iowans be heard.  The legal definition of marriage should be in their hands, not the hands of unelected judges,” Napier added.

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit Varnum v. Brien in December 2005 against Polk County Clerk Timothy Brien on behalf of six same-sex couples demanding marriage licenses and arguing that the state’s Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

In April 2007, ADF attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of several state legislators in support of the act.  After the lower court ruled the act unconstitutional, ADF attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Iowa Supreme Court on behalf of five state legislators who called into question the trial judge’s decision in August 2007 to reject the state’s expert testimony in defense of the act.  The court heard oral arguments in the case in December of last year.

ADF-allied attorneys Steven W. Fitschen of the National Legal Foundation and Joshua Baker of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy wrote separate friend-of-the-court briefs for the case.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.  Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

Share This Page