DES MOINES, Iowa -- While the 10 year anniversary of same-sex marriage in Iowa isn't until April 3, 2019, two former Iowans, Sean and Tim McQuillan can pop the cork. "For about twenty months that was the only legally recognized same-sex marriage in Iowa," said Mark Stringer, current Executive Director of ACLU Iowa.
On Thursday August 30, 2007, Polk County court judge Robert Hanson ruled it was unconstitutional and invalid to prohibit same-sex couples to marry. "It was a positive thing for the country that marriage equality could take root here in Iowa," said Stringer.
The window of opportunity was small, so Friday morning, Mark who was a minister at the time, received a phone call. "They found out there was going to be a stay issued and they needed to advance the time of the ceremony to like immediately." Soon after, at Stringer's home, on August 31, history was made. That day ten years ago, Sean explained the expedited process and said, "We were afraid if we don't get it today the conservative movement will bring a lot of money into the legal appeal process and win in the Supreme Court and we won't get a marriage license ever."
Sean and Tim McQuillan were the only Iowa couple to get their marriage license and finish their vows before the stay was issued later that day. Stringer said, "When they were able to get their marriage license and get it back to the county recorder's office just before the stay was issued, every other marriage was put on hold until the Supreme Court ruled in 2009.
Stringer applauds the couple's bravery, saying, "They were entrepreneurial in their pursuit of equal rights." He hopes Iowa can continue that tenacity to be bold for everyone. "I am hopeful that a milestone like this, looking back on it helps all of us think about the ways we still withhold rights from people that don't deserve that kind of treatment."
Stringer held a more formal ceremony for Sean and Tim a few years later so family and friends could attend. The married couple now lives in California.