Iowa Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Lambda Legal's Case Seeking Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

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"We put our best case forward, and hope that the Court breathes life into the promise of equality guaranteed in the Iowa Constitution."
December 9, 2008

(Des Moines, December 9, 2008) — Today the Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Lambda Legal's case on behalf of six Iowa same-sex couples and their families who are seeking the right to marry.

"We put our best case forward, and hope that the Court breathes life into the Iowa Constitution's promise of equality," said Camilla Taylor, Senior Staff Attorney and chief architect of the lawsuit based in Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office in Chicago.

"Iowa has a long, proud history of protecting individual rights. The government has no business standing in the way of a loving same-sex couple who wants to take responsibility for each other and their family," said Dennis Johnson, former Iowa Solicitor General and partner at the firm Dorsey and Whitney who argued the case on behalf of Lambda Legal's clients.

"My grandparents were married 68 years and Reva's grandparents were married 57 years. My family values the importance of marriage and commitment and I learned that lesson very early — it's a lesson I want to pass on to our son," said Ingrid Olson, plaintiff in the lawsuit along with her partner Reva Evans and their son Jamison.

In December 2005, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit with the Polk County Court on behalf of six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Iowa, arguing that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates the liberty and equality guarantees in the Iowa State Constitution. In August of 2007 the district court ruled that denying marriage to same-sex couples is unconstitutional. In March 2008, 15 friend-of-the-court briefs were filed supporting same-sex couples seeking the right to marry, and the right of their children not to have their families branded as inferior. Those briefs were signed by hundreds of Iowans including former Lieutenant Governors Joy Corning and Sally Pederson. To learn more about the briefs visit: The final decision in this case will be made by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Lambda Legal clients attending the argument: Kate and Trish Varnum of Cedar Rapids; David Twombley and Larry Hoch of Urbandale; Dawn and Jen BarbouRoske and their daughter McKinley of Iowa City; Ingrid Olson and Reva Evans of Council Bluffs; Jason Morgan and Chuck Swaggerty of Sioux City; and Bill Musser and Otter Dreaming of Decorah.

Tonight the community will gather to discuss this historic event with remarks by Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal's Senior Staff Attorney and chief architect of the lawsuit.

"Making the Case" Des Moines Reception — Tuesday, December 9, 2008 — 6:30-8:00 PM Pappajohn Center, 1200 Grand Ave., Des Moines.

Lambda Legal and One Iowa are hosting a series of town hall meetings across the state about the oral arguments and the lawsuit. For a list of dates and cities, please visit

The Iowa case is: Varnum v. Brien

Camilla Taylor, Senior Staff Attorney and Kenneth Upton, Jr., Supervising Senior Staff Attorney are handling the case for Lambda Legal. They are joined by former Iowa Solicitor General Dennis Johnson of Dorsey and Whitney in Des Moines.


Contact: Media Relations Director, Lisa Hardaway Office: 212-809-8585 ext: 266; Email: [email protected]


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