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Happy Marriage Day, Iowa!

Nora Ranney,
LGBT Project
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April 27, 2009

Today is truly historic. After the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitution’s promise of freedom, today is the day lesbian and gay couples can become married in Iowa.

Recently I have found myself humbled by news from Iowa. Don’t get me wrong — I’m ELATED. But I am also humbled. You see, I grew up in Iowa. I was born in Indianola, a small college town, and spent my school-aged years in Des Moines.

I’m humbled because I know I don’t seize opportunities to stand up and say, with pride, that I am from Iowa. I was ready as a high school senior to leave and explore the great world beyond, and I don’t go back as often as my family would like.

But since the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision, I have been reminded of where I come from. And why I should be proud. I have been educated along with others around the country; I have learned that the Iowa Supreme Court decision isn’t the first time that Iowa has led the way in terms of recognizing our Constitution and promoting civil rights.


  • Iowa rejected slavery 26 years before the end of the Civil War
  • Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated “separate but equal” schools had no place in Iowa — a ruling 85 years before the US Supreme Court came to that conclusion
  • Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled against racial discrimination in public accommodations 91 years before the US Supreme Court came to that conclusion
  • Iowa’s legislature removed legal constraints on interracial marriage in 1851; the US Supreme Court would not rule that anti-miscegenation laws are a denial of equal protection until 1967
  • Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women into the practice of law

So the next time someone says “MARRIAGE IN IOWA? IOWA? C’MON!”, remind them that fairness and the hope for ending discrimination in our lives are not the providence of the coasts. Fair-minded citizens are alive and well – in my birthplace and in yours.

The fight to sustain the freedom to marry in Iowa is not over! Our state partner, One Iowa, needs your help to win hearts and minds in Iowa. Visit their website to see how you can get involved, then watch their new ad and forward it to friends and family.

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