Families in Jeopardy?

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POSTED: Monday, November 8, 2010 - 5:24pm

UPDATED: Sunday, November 14, 2010 - 3:28pm

Three of Iowa's Supreme Court justices will soon be losing their jobs after voters decided Tuesday not to retain them.

The dismissal of those judges was largely a result of a campaign centered on their decision to allow gay marriage.

For the gay community the move is seen as a step in the wrong direction.

Within the past year, more than 2,000 same-sex couples have tied the knot in Iowa.

Some gay couples are concerned the dismissal of the judges who helped legalize their unions might jeopardize what they've worked for.

Lytishya and Danielle Borglum are newlyweds, and together, they're raising three children.

For them being able to legally get married after nine years together was a big step, so the ousting of three judges that supported the ability for couples like the Borglums to say "I do," is a real concern.

"If you think back over the last year-and-a-half of how our communities have changed, and how our state has changed, since gays have been able to marry in Iowa, most of those people that voted, nothing changed in their lives. But something changed in our lives. We were able to get married and legally adopt our two small children as a couple," said Lytishya Borglum.

She says what's most concerning to her, is that the majority of the groups who campaigned to get rid of those justices were not from Iowa.

"To me, it's really sad that groups can come in and influence us that much. And they were convincing Iowans that by somehow throwing out these judges that would change the law. And it didn't change anything. We're still able to get married here and the law still stands," Borglum said.

University of Northern Iowa political science professor Scott Peters says Borglum is right about those that worked to persuade voters not to retain these judges.

"Somewhere between $600,000 to $700,000 was spent to oust these justices. Most of that money came not from the in-state group headed by Bob Vander Plaats, but from the national group: National Organization of Marriage. As best we can tell right now, they were behind somewhere between one-half and two-thirds of all the money spent to oust the judges," Peters said.

The Borglums are just glad that even without some of those judges, it would be a lengthy process to legally overturn same-sex unions.

They hope by the time any such measure comes before law-makers, people will realize the benefits of gay marriage to Iowans like them, and continue allow same-sex couples to tie the knot.

In the coming months, the Supreme Court selection committee will be tasked with sending up to nine nominees for the high court to the governor.

That means it's very unlikely that Governor Chet Culver will have the chance to select the new justices.

Governor-elect Terry Branstad says nominations for the new justices should wait until he's in office.

The three ousted judges, Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice David Baker, and Justice Michael Streit will remain on the bench until December 31st.

Four Supreme Court justices will remain.

That's enough for a quorum to conduct business, but officials have noted that rulings will likely be slowed with fewer judges.

Comments News Comments

You improperly minimize the motive behind voting against 3 justices when you state: dismissal...was largely a result of a campaign centered on their decision to allow gay marriage.

The vote was SOLELY a result of the justices applying Equal Protection of the IA constitution to marriage.

Our founding fathers intended to insulate judges from reflexive vox populi. Removal is for misconduct like bribery & hidden conflicts, not conscientious application of the Constitution. Shame on some IAs.

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