DES MOINES, Iowa (BP)–The Iowa Supreme Court will issue a much-anticipated “gay marriage” decision Friday morning that could make it the third state — and easily the most conservative one yet — to redefine marriage.
The court announced Thursday in a note on its website that the ruling would be posted by 8:30 a.m. Central Time Friday. A ruling for “gay marriage” would be a significant victory for homosexual activists but also would launch a conservative effort to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Any amendment would have to be initiated by the legislature, which is controlled by Democrats who have thus far resisted efforts to place such a proposal on the ballot. The court heard oral arguments in December.
Opponents of “gay marriage” in the state say that religious freedom would be impacted.
Meanwhile, the highest court in New York, the Court of Appeals, announced Tuesday it would accept an appeal from the Alliance Defense Fund concerning recognition of out-of-state “gay marriages.” Although “gay marriage” is not legal in New York, some local and state officials in recent years have issued orders requiring the recognition of “marriages” from outside jurisdictions such as Canada and Massachusetts.
“They’re acting outside their authority,” ADF attorney Jim Campbell told Baptist Press.
ADF lost both cases in lower courts.
In one case the high court accepted, Westchester County Executive Andrew J. Spano in 2006 ordered county departments and officials to recognize “gay marriages” in the same manner they recognize legal marriages. In the other case taken by the court, the New York State Department of Civil Service revised its policies in 2007 to recognize outside “gay marriages” for the purpose of extending marital benefits to employee spouses.
The New York Court of Appeals in 2006 refused to legalize “gay marriage,” although one of the justices who sided with the majority in that ruling no longer is on the court.
Technically, neither of the cases involves Democratic Gov. David A. Paterson’s 2008 directive ordering state agencies to recognize out-of-state “gay marriages.” Campbell, though, said ADF will ask the court to issue a ruling covering Paterson’s order and any similar ones statewide.
“They could obviously have a more narrow ruling than that,” Campbell said, “but we would be asking for them to declare that a proper interpretation of comity and conflict of law principles does not allow executive officials in New York to recognize these out-of-state same-sex marriages. Thus, it would — if we got the relief we’re requesting — implicitly prevent the governor from issuing the directive that he did.”
A date for oral arguments has not been set. The New York cases are Lewis v. New York State Department of Civil Service and Godfrey v. Spano.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.