CONSENTING ADULTS GETTING MARRIED IN IOWA…. Per the instructions of the state Supreme Court, same-sex couples in Iowa are allowed to get legally married, starting today. What was of particular interest, however, was whether any local officials in the state would deliberately break the law.
Rumors surfaced over the past week that some recorders would refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples over conflicts with their personal beliefs. Some conservative groups and lawmakers were accused of trying to recruit recorders to refuse the licenses.
State agencies sent out information to recorders statewide last week saying they could be removed from their positions if they don’t follow the law and issue the licenses.
“There’s a lot of people fishing around out there, but we’ll see,” said [Johnson County Recorder Kim Painter]. “I am quite optimistic that all 99 recorders will follow the rule of law and issue licenses.”
Marilyn Dopheide, the Carroll County recorder and president of the Iowa County Recorder’s Association, said that within about an hour of the recorders’ offices opening there had been no problems with licenses being issued.
I’m glad to hear that, because there was a concerted push from some far-right activists to have county recorders simply ignore the law and refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples. Most notably, state Sen. Merlin Bartz (R) and the Iowa Family Policy Center began a campaign to “pressure” local officials on the issue. What’s more, the Alliance Defense Fund, a religious-right legal group, announced it would provide legal assistance to Iowa county reporters who were penalized for refusing to do their jobs.
Last week, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller took this talk seriously enough to remind officials that county recorders do not have the authority to sidestep laws they don’t like. “Recorders do not have discretion or power to ignore the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling,” Miller said, adding, “If necessary, we will explore legal actions to enforce and implement the Court’s ruling, working with the Iowa Department of Public Health and county attorneys.”
So far, it appears everyone is playing by the rules. That’s good news.