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Same-sex marriage finally arrives in Iowa

BY ZHI XIONG | APRIL 27, 2009 7:28 AM

“We’ll be at the recorder’s office at 10:30 a.m.,” said UI graduate student Lindsey Quinn, who plans to officially marry her wife, Cybil Wriedt. “Starting Thursday, we’ll be the Quinn-Wriedts.”

On top of objections from the political and moral arenas, the decision raises several issues based on logistics and technical details:

• Johnson County is home to more than 300 same-sex couples, according to recent census data. It is the highest percentage compared with all households in the state. Five judges handle marriage applications, which are filed in the county recorder’s office.

• The Iowa judicial system, suffering furlough Fridays and magistrate reapportionment because of budget woes, could take an estimated 55,000 same-sex couples from other states seeking marriage licenses in Iowa. However, Iowa could gain $5.3 million from sales-tax revenue and income each year by allowing gay marriage, according to a UCLA study.

• The state’s new marriage forms will say “Party A” and “Party B” rather than “bride” and “groom.” The Johnson County recorder’s website has not yet changed its traditional wording but notes the forms issued today use the gender-neutral terms.

• Same-sex couples can seek a waiver so they can become legally married the same day they apply for the license. A judicial district judge decides whether to abandon the three-day waiting period.
Based on the Iowa Code, a judge can grant waivers in cases of emergency or extraordinary circumstances. Frequently a waiver helps couples who made costly wedding arrangements without knowing about the three-day wait period, said Sac County Magistrate Warren Bush.

The waiting period was also a corrective to hotheaded decisions.

“It was to give people time to come to their senses,” Bush said.


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