Monday, April 27, 2009

Marriage Monday in Iowa City

Marriage Monday in Iowa City

Recorder Kim Painter issues marriage license as TV crew films.

Approximately ten same-sex marriage licenses have been issued in Johnson County as of 8:40 this morning.

The Iowa Supreme Court issued procedendo, the last formal legal step to marriage equality in Iowa, at 7:52 a.m. "I was tingling and got choked up for a minute" when the legal notice arrived on her Blackberry, said Recorder Kim Painter.

40 to 50 people, including couples, supporters and media (two TV stations, several print organizations, and a blogger), were on hand just after 8 a.m. The crowd was much smaller than it had been at a 2004 protest, when Painter was forced by the law as it stood to deny licenses to more than 50 couples.

"We don't have the rush feel that other states have had, we don't have the fear it'll be taken away," said Robin Butler. She and partner Janelle Rettig were married in a ceremony in Canada a few years ago, and that ceremony is now recognized in Iowa.

Painter said no judicial waivers of the three day waiting period had been issued so far.

Indeed, big and fast ceremonies may be the exception rather than the rule, as some of the couples had the "big wedding" years ago. That includes the first couple in line, Lisa Harbit and Lolita Blaha, who arrived at 7:10 a.m. "This is history in the making and we want to be part of it," said Lisa. The couple had a large commitment ceremony years ago, and plan to have a small ceremony for family and friends in the near future.

Couple Sue and Lucy (no last names please) also had a commitment ceremony ten years ago, and "this won't be as big a bash as last time."

There were no signs of counter-protesters. Connections, an Iowa City LGBT organization, had a table, and one family had a small tailgate party. Loud cheers went up as each couple (about 10 by 8:40 a.m.) left the building with licenses in hand.

Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek, who was in the building with two officers just in case, said there were no incidents, and about 8:30 he and the officers left.

County Attorney Janet Lyness was also on hand in case legal issues came up, but none did and she instead was greeting friends and taking pictures.

Butler said she recognized many of the people on hand as active members of the LGBT community, but there were other couples she had never seen before. She also noted a broad mix of ages.

At the far end of the counter, away from the marriage hubbub, one person was getting a real estate deed. Just another day.

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