Court Brief Supports Same-Sex Marriage

NASW has filed a brief in a case before the Supreme Court of Iowa addressing same-sex marriage. NASW is supporting a 2007 trial court's ruling that denying marriage to same-sex couples is unconstitutional.

The case, Varnum v. Brien, originated in 2005 when Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in the Polk County Court on behalf of six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Iowa. Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. The plaintiff couples argued that denying them marriage violates the equal protection and due process guarantees in the Iowa State Constitution.

NASW was joined in its brief by the association's Iowa Chapter as well as Youth and Shelter Services, an organization serving youth and families in Iowa, and the Middleton Center for Children's Rights at Drake University Law School.

In supporting the 2007 trial court decision, NASW makes three arguments:

  • In evaluating the constitutional challenge to the Iowa code that imposes a statutory ban on same-sex marriage, the court must consider and protect the interests of children of same-sex couples, as well as the interests of children of opposite-sex couples.
  • The district court properly admitted reliable expert testimony based on established social science research in its examination of the statute.
  • Based on the admitted social science evidence, the district court properly found that denying same-sex couples the right to marry significantly harms their children.

"Based on the social science properly admitted by the district court, [the statute] does not serve to protect or help Iowa's children," the brief concludes. "Instead, the statute harms a certain class of children — those with same-sex parents. Therefore, [it] serves no legitimate governmental interest and should not survive rational basis review."

The brief was prepared by the pro bono team Vivian L. Polak, Jonathan A. Damon, Spencer R. Wood, Suman Chakraborty and Emily A. Gianquinto from Dewey & LeBoef LLP of New York.

Get more information on the Amicus Brief Database.