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Iowa judge strikes down state ban on same-sex marriage

[JURIST] A judge sitting in Polk County [official website], Iowa Thursday struck down Iowa's same-sex marriage ban [PDF text] as an unconstitutional violation of due process and equal protection. Judge Robert Hanson ordered officials to process marriage license applications for same-sex couples despite an announcement by county attorney John Sarcone that the county will appeal Hanson's ruling directly to the Iowa Supreme Court [official website]. Sarcone quickly sought a stay on same-sex marriage applications from Hanson pending the county's appeal. Iowa passed its Defense of Marriage Act [Marriage Watch backgrounder] in 1996.

Sioux City couple Jason Moran and Chuck Swaggerty first brought the lawsuit in December 2005 after being denied a marriage license. House Minority Leader Christopher Rants, also of Sioux City, predicted that the state legislature will debate same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] during their next session, and possibly draft a constitutional amendment. In April, the Iowa House of Representatives passed a bill [SF247 materials; JURIST report] that that will provide equal opportunity protection to gays and lesbians in employment, housing, and education, but left the definition of marriage the same. AP has more. The Sioux City Journal has local coverage.

12:16 PM ET - AP is reporting that two Iowan men have now been married by a minister in Des Moines.

2:58 PM ET - Polk County Judge Robert Hanson has officially stayed his ruling. AP has more.

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