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The Varnum Decision: Ten Years of Marriage Equality in Iowa

AP Photo/Pool, John Gaps III
Trish, left, and Kate Varnum, of Cedar Rapids, hold hands in the gallery as the Iowa Supreme Court listened to oral arguments in a challenge to the state's same-sex marriage ban Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008 in Des Moines, Iowa.

This program originally aired on April 02, 2019.

In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court handed down a unanimous ruling in the case of Varnum v. Brien, making Iowa the third state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. 

On this episode of River to River, a look back at the historic decision 10 years later. 


  • Camilla Taylor, director of constitutional litigation for the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal
  • Sharon Melheiro, founder of One Iowa
  • Matt McCoy, former Iowa State Senator
  • Iowa residents Maryfrances Evans and Michael Morain, each of whom have been able to marry their longtime partners under the decision. 
Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River