- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2003

A group of Iowa lawmakers and a conservative group are pursuing legal action against a state district judge, despite his revision of a “divorce” decree he gave two Iowa lesbians to end their Vermont civil union.

On Dec. 24, District Judge Jeffrey Neary amended his Nov. 14 “divorce” ruling that ended the Vermont-issued civil union of Kimberly Brown, 31, and Jennifer Perez, 26, both of Sioux City, Iowa.

In his new ruling, Judge Neary said his court didn’t have the authority to grant “a dissolution of marriage from a Vermont civil union,” but it did have jurisdiction concerning the “status and rights” of the women. Therefore, it “terminated” the civil union and declared Miss Brown and Miss Perez “free of any obligations incident thereto.”

Charles Hurley, president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, said yesterday the amended ruling is still wrong, because it ended something that doesn’t exist in Iowa. Only Vermont judges can end a civil union “and he’s not a Vermont judge,” said Mr. Hurley.

The judge changed his terminology but not the substance of the ruling, said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican and one of six lawmakers in a lawsuit to overturn the Neary ruling.

“In his mind, and in the minds of the liberals and in the minds of the homosexual lobby, they have still succeeded in granting a divorce to a couple who is part of a civil union that is established in Vermont,” said Mr. King.

“Marriages” and “divorces” of same-sex couples aren’t recognized in Iowa because that state’s Defense of Marriage Act specifies that marriage is the union of one male and one female, he added.

Mr. King and the other plaintiffs, including a pastor, are represented by the Iowa Family Policy Center’s legal arm, the Iowa Liberty and Justice Center. The Iowa Supreme Court has agreed to consider their petition Jan. 12.

Vermont’s civil union law grants homosexual couples marriagelike rights and responsibilities. Thousands of homosexuals from out of state have gotten civil unions even though the law is only in effect in Vermont and there is a one-year Vermont residency requirement to end a civil union.

Meanwhile in California, an effort to bring a public vote on a new domestic-partnership law has ended.

A group led by state Sen. William “Pete” Knight missed a Dec. 21 deadline to gather 373,000 signatures to stop implementation of the new law that gives marriagelike rights to homosexual couples.

Supporters of the signature drive said the new law violates Proposition 22, a voter-approved measure that says that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in California. These marriage supporters now believe lawsuits to block the new law will be successful. Legal arguments are expected to be held in the spring before Superior Court Judge Thomas Cecil.

Homosexual-rights activists said the signature campaign failed because most Californians support domestic partnerships.


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