Gay marriage law’s impact on Iowans subtle, yet powerful DesMoinesRegister.com -Gay marriage law’s impact on Iowans subtle, yet powerful
Posted on June 15, 2009
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The April marriage ruling hasn’t enticed Jean and George Huffey’s two gay children to move back to Iowa from Wisconsin and Indiana, as the two parents had hoped.
Not many same-sex couples have relocated here in the two short months since the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on April 3 that both gay and straight couples have equal rights to marriage, anecdotal evidence suggests.
“It’s going to take time,” said Des Moines real estate agent Mindi McCoy, who had two same-sex clients from New York City look at properties, then decide against purchasing. “We’re still in kind of this honeymoon stage, no pun intended.”
Gay culture is sharply in focus this weekend as thousands gather to celebrate at the Capital City PrideFest in Des Moines. The Des Moines Register interviewed dozens of gays and lesbians to identify early trends since the first marriages took place April 27, including the effects on the ease of coming out of the closet, family relationships, religion, business, politics and the underground gay sex scene.
The changes in Iowa since the ruling are subtle but powerful to the individuals affected, according to both advocates and opponents.
Same-sex married couples who live here said they are already experiencing firsthand how Iowa law still treats them differently from opposite-sex couples.
Of the hundreds of same-sex Iowa couples who are now married – no state agency tracks the number of same-sex unions – some said they feel less guarded about holding hands or sharing a kiss in certain public settings.
“At your job, you don’t feel like you can’t have a picture of you and your partner up,” said Des Moines resident Justin De Vries.
Marriage seems to have been embraced mainly by same-sex couples with a history together: five years, a decade, 20 years or more. Some faith leaders have committed acts of quiet rebellion to marry them, even as their churches remain locked in debate over same-sex weddings.
“People are taking this as a very serious issue,” said Sharon Malheiro, a Des Moines lawyer. Couples are asking: ” ‘If we get married, what will the impact be? What are our obligations to each other?’ They’re not being nonchalant about it.”
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