CNN reports on how everything has changed for same sex couples in Iowa.
Everything changed for this Iowa nurse on April 3, when the Midwestern state's Supreme Court unanimously ruled to overturn a ban on same-sex marriages. On that day, Pollard proposed to Gayla Snook, her partner of 10 years -- three times, just because she could. By lunchtime, the two women were busy planning their wedding, a big blowout scheduled for next summer.
Forty years after the Stonewall riots in New York -- the June 28, 1969, demonstrations that marked the beginning of the gay rights movement -- Iowa stands as one of six U.S. states to have legalized same-sex marriages. The others that currently, or will soon, perform such unions are Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire.
Iowa Episcopal Churches offer blessings of civil marriages according to Diocesan Policy. Clergy may ask a state official to perform the vows followed by the blessing of the couple's marriage.
The Supreme Court’s ruling broadens the legal definition of marriage beyond that which is currently stated in the Canons of the Church or the Prayer Book which contains our authorized services. Further, the Prayer Book requires compliance with both the laws of the State and the canons of the Church. But the Church’s definition of the sacrament of marriage and the state’s definition of the legal form of marriage now differ. In spite of the good intentions many may have, I am unable to permit Episcopal clergy to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Couples wishing prayers and a blessing therefore must go first to the state to be married or a priest may ask a state official to provide for the vows and the signing of the license.
Read the Diocesan policy below:
A Pastoral Response
to the Iowa State Supreme Court Ruling on Equal Marriage
The Rt. Rev. Alan Scarfe, Bishop of Iowa
I invite you to read the to the Iowa State Supreme Court Ruling on same sex marriage carefully and prayerfully. It is, I believe, the only position available to us according to the polity and custom of our Church. We stand four months away from a General Convention where the limited character of this position will be challenged by resolutions that will come before the Church in Council.
While I affirm the practice of pastoral local option, never repudiated even by the Windsor process, I am aware of the discrepancy, and discrimination in practice this response reveals. Some would seek that I unilaterally ignore the canons and assume the State’s broadened definition, others are caught by the inequity of treating heterosexual couples different than same sex couples. These become important insights for the upcoming debate given our different circumstances in Iowa. A short while ago there was not much energy around a Task Force on Marriage as asked for by General Convention. I would think that the urgency of that conversation has greatly increased, and I am glad for the reasoned and careful statements I have been receiving on that topic. I know emotions are running high, and they have to be expressed. But polemics do not get as much attention as engaging conversation.
We are being sought after by couples around the country, who want more than a civil ceremony. They truly are people of faith seeking their depository of faith, the Church, to celebrate with them. In the calls I receive, I am told of the church membership of the various callers. Being welcoming is vital, and I believe it can be done creatively and within our current canonical constraints by clergy able to engage a local option. For me “being welcoming” also includes support for the rights already afforded. This is a pastoral response, it is not a final answer. The issues have been made clearer. This is not a time to walk away from being part of the process as it reaches another critical point and we fear our differences. We need courage to keep talking and we continue to need patience which in such circumstance becomes itself a form of courage.