When you take a step back and look at the basic legal argument behind these cases, the correct answer is remarkably clear. So clear, in fact, that I'm quite certain that future generations of lawyers and law students will look at these cases and wonder why it took so long for the courts to reach such an obvious conclusion, particularly in light of the extensive (and directly analogous) case law dealing with miscegenation laws and segregation. Once you accept the premise that there is nothing wrong with being gay (a premise which, I think, the vast majority of people--especially educated people like judges--accept), it becomes nearly impossible to make a principled legal argument in defense of laws that prohibit gay people from being married. It's just such an obvious and straightforward violation of equal protection.
It's really a sweeping, total win for the gay-rights side, rejecting any claim that objections to same-sex marriage can be seen as "rational," rejecting a parallel civil union remedy, and pronouncing same-sex marriages and gay and lesbian couples essentially normal.
The decision is particularly significant politically because of Iowa's pivotal place in the presidential nominating process. The issue could play a big role in the state's Republican caucuses come 2012, especially as it would take until then before a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage could go to the voters. It'd be hard to blame former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, for instance, if he were dancing in the streets today. Someone like Huckabee, who already appeals to the evangelicals that play a key role in the GOP caucuses, could really benefit from this decision.
Ed Whelan writes against marriage:
The lawless judicial attack on traditional marriage and on representative government continues.
Will Duncan of the Marriage Law Foundation (an anti-marriage equality group):
The decision was unanimous that the marriage law is unconstitutional. It distorted the state's interests in the marriage law and engaged in a little bit of mind-reading to suggest that the real reason a person would be concerned with redefining marriage is religious belief and that, the court thinks, is no real reason at all.
So much for blaming the coastal liberal radical homosexuals for this one.
(Photo: Paul Morris/Getty.)