MARRIAGE EQUALITY ADVANCES IN IOWA, VERMONT…. In Iowa, consenting adults can now get legally married, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The Iowa Supreme Court this morning struck down a 1998 state law that limits marriage to one man and one woman.

The ruling is viewed as a victory for the gay rights movement in Iowa and elsewhere, and a setback for social conservatives who wanted to protect traditional families.

The decision makes Iowa the first Midwestern state, and the fourth nationwide, to allow same-sex marriages. Lawyers for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group that financed the court battle and represented the couples, had hoped to use a court victory to demonstrate acceptance of same-sex marriage in heartland America.

The server is a little overwhelmed this morning, but the state Supreme Court’s ruling, which was unanimous, is online.

The change won’t be immediate, and county and state governments in Iowa will reportedly get a few months to put procedural changes in place. In the meantime, opponents of marriage equality will begin a renewed push for an amendment to the state constitution, though that’s likely to take a while.

What’s more, about 12 hours before the ruling in Iowa, Vermont’s state House joined the state Senate in passing legislation to allow gay marriage in the Green Mountain State. The final vote was 95 to 52.

The Vermont measure will be vetoed by the state’s Republican governor, Jim Douglas, though proponents remain cautiously optimistic that the legislature can override the veto.

All in all, it’s an encouraging day for social justice in America.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.