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Archive for Saturday, September 1, 2007

Gay couple legally marry before Iowa judge stays earlier ruling

September 1, 2007

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— Two men sealed the state's first legal same-sex marriage with a kiss Friday morning, less than 24 hours after a judge threw out Iowa's ban on gay marriage and about two hours before he put the ruling on hold.

It was a narrow window of opportunity.

Thursday afternoon, Polk County Judge Robert Hanson temporarily cleared the way for same-sex couples across the state to apply for marriage licenses in Polk County when he ruled that Iowa's 1998 Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed marriage only between a man and a woman, violated the constitutional rights of due process and equal protection of six gay couples who had sued.

County attorney John Sarcone promised a quick appeal, and he asked Hanson to stay his ruling until the appeal was resolved.

A dozen gay and lesbian couples were waiting at the county recorder's office when it opened Friday morning.

By 11 a.m., 20 had applied for marriage licenses when Recorder Julie Haggerty announced that she had been instructed to stop accepting the applications.

The judge's stay means the recorder's office is not permitted to accept any more marriage applications from gay couples until the Iowa Supreme Court rules on the county's appeal.

Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan were among the lucky few to get their application through.

The marriage license approval process normally takes three business days, but Fritz and McQuillan took advantage of a loophole that allows couples to skip the waiting period if they pay a $5 fee and get a judge to sign a waiver.

Friday morning, the Rev. Mark Stringer declared the two Iowa State University students legally married in a wedding on the Unitarian minister's front lawn in Des Moines.

"This is it. We're married. I love you," Fritz told McQuillan after the ceremony.

Fritz explained their hurry: "We're both in our undergrad programs and we thought maybe we'd put it off until applying at graduate school, but when this opportunity came up, we thought maybe we wouldn't get the opportunity again."

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