Painter Looks At Marriage Ruling Professionally, Personally
Kim Painter of Iowa City is on the front lines of today's gay marriage ruling both personally and professionally. As Johnson County recorder, she issues the county's marriage licenses. Yet before today's court ruling, Painter and her long-time partner were ineligible for a license themselves. After winning competitive primary and general elections in 1998, Painter became the first open lesbian elected to county-wide office in Iowa. She has long since settled into office, winning re-election twice with no opposition, and is this year's president of the Iowa State Association of Counties.
Painter is planning to meet with Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness Friday to discuss the implications of today's ruling on her office. "We're reviewing the wording to determine what it means outside Polk County and the judicial district," Painter said. "(Friday's) hearing will determine, among other things, when the ruling will take effect."
In 2003, during the weeks when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom was issuing marriage licenses in his city, about 20 same sex couples attempted to get marriage licenses in Johnson County. Painter had the duty of enforcing the law as it was then interpreted. She turned the couples away, despite her personal opinion about the law.
"I believe that equal protection applies to marriage," Painter told Iowa Independent. "We tried to parse and negate equal protection for certain classes of people,and if we try to take that equal protection away from a certain class of people, then we destroy the constitutional fabric itself."