McGuireWoods Lawyers Provide Pro Bono Support for Iowa Supreme Court Marriage Equality Case

April 3, 2009

The Iowa Supreme Court declared that a 1998 Iowa statute limiting marriage to a man and a woman was unconstitutional in a decision released today. Lawyers from McGuireWoods’ Chicago office co-authored a friend-of-the court brief, also known as an amicus brief, on behalf of six same-sex couples who want the right to legally marry in Iowa in the case Varnum v. Brien, argued before the Iowa Supreme Court last December.

McGuireWoods partners, Jeff Torres and Richard Greenberg, and associates Yuan-Ying Hsu and Sarah Schwartz, assisted a number of nationally-recognized law professors in filing an amicus brief on behalf of the six couples, who were denied marriage licenses in Polk County, Iowa, and filed their lawsuit after being informed that only heterosexual couples could receive marriage licenses under Iowa state law. In December 2005, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a lawsuit with the Polk County Court on behalf of the six same-sex couples. In the case, Lambda Legal argued that denying marriage to same-sex couples violated the liberty and equality guarantees in the Iowa State Constitution.

The amicus brief argued that the Iowa Supreme Court should uphold the district court’s August 2007 ruling in favor of the couples holding that denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples was unconstitutional under Iowa law. McGuireWoods lawyers argued that the district court properly relied on social science evidence to rebut the State of Iowa’s claim that children raised by same-sex parents have serious emotional, intellectual, or social development problems simply because of their parents’ sexual orientation, or because they do not have both a male and female parent.

Torres and Greenberg are both members of McGuireWoods Diversity Committee. Torres was recently appointed to the Lambda’s National Leadership Circle, the primary advisory board of Lambda Legal.

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.