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Friday, April 04, 2014

Courts - Impact of the Iowa same sex marriage opinion 5 years ago

The Des Moines Register is doing a look-back on the ruling with several stories. Here, from the April 3rd issue, is the introduction to a long article by Sharyn Jackson:

The unanimous Iowa Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage five years ago today had a profound effect on the ongoing movement for equality for gays and lesbians and on three of the justices who decided the case — and lost their jobs because of it.

When Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices Michael Streit and David Baker faced a retention election in November 2010, they met a backlash-fueled campaign, funded in part by out-of-state interest groups. A combined three decades of experience on the Iowa Supreme Court ended in a single day.

The former justices have continued their careers as attorneys: Ternus is a lecturer and trial consultant in Des Moines, Streit is an arbitrator at the Des Moines firm of Ahlers & Cooney, and Baker is a mediator in Cedar Rapids.

They also continue to stand up for judicial independence, as they did in 2012, when they received the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

"We knew that our decision would be unpopular with many people, and we even knew in the back of our minds that we could lose our jobs because of our votes in that case," Ternus said in her acceptance speech. "But we took an oath of office in which we promised to uphold the Iowa Constitution without fear, favor or hope of reward, and that is what we did."

A second campaign in 2012 to unseat Justice David Wiggins failed. The remaining Varnum v. Brien justices, current Chief Justice Mark Cady and Justices Daryl Hecht and Brent Appel, face retention votes in 2016.

The Des Moines Register spoke with Baker and Streit about how the case changed their careers and changed Iowa, and with legal experts and opponents who were instrumental in their ouster. Ternus and the sitting justices declined to comment for this story; their words come from archival material.

Access the story for the interviews.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 4, 2014 01:23 PM
Posted to Courts in general