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SCOTUS Rules Same-Sex Marriage Constitutional: "Today We're Going to Celebrate"


This morning the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right in all 50 states.

The ruling comes on the heels of one of the fastest changes in public opinion in U.S. history. Author Tom Witosky, author of Equal Before the Law, says it’s been a quick sea change.

“The history has been rather quick. It began with civil unions in Vermont. Massachusetts came up with the first decision then in 2003,” he explains, “then there was Iowa in 2009.”

I would stand up for the right of a church who chooses not to marry same gender people. No church tomorrow will be required to marry a same gender couple, unless it chooses to. - Donna Red Wing, One Iowa

Witosky says the SCOTUS decision echoed some of what was written in the decision Varnum v Brien, the court case that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.

“There were a lot of echoes in the decision today by Justice Kennedy. The Varnum decision did not mention children per se, but it raised the questions on the impact to children by these bans.”

During this River to River conversation, host Ben Kieffer talks with Witosky. Associate professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa Scott Peters also joins the conversation.

Peters says that while same-sex marriage is now the law of the land, the conversation is not over.

“I’ve looked over some of the statements of the presidential candidates, and they fall into two categories. Some people are saying, ‘Well, I disagree with the Supreme Court, but there’s not much I can do at this point.’ Then you have another category who are farther to the right and are making public statements, ‘We can still fight this.’”

We're very happy that Missouri, which didn't recognize our marriage, now must... We have such a place in our heart that Iowa led the nation on this; there will be many anniversary trips. - Ed Reggi, "The Love Bus"

“What we will continue to see in Iowa and across the country is politicians who can make hay of this and gain votes by continuing to oppose same-sex marriage even though the Supreme Court has spoken,” Peters says. 

We also hear from Sarah Viren, an Iowan who was married in Iowa before relocating to Texas, about how she feels that her marriage is now recognized; Ed Reggi, who drove the “Love Bus” from Missouri to Iowa City so that low income same-sex couples could married; and Donna Red Wing of One Iowa.

Red Wing says the fight for equality is still not over.

“As long as there are stereotypes and discrimination, those are things we have to deal with, but today we’re going to celebrate.” 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Digital Producer
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River