Saturday, February 21, 2009

As Iowa Goes, So Goes the Nation...

Law School to Examine Iowa Same Sex Marriage Case
University of Iowa News Release, Feb. 12, 2009

While the Iowa Supreme Court debates the future of gay marriage in the state, the University of Iowa College of Law will examine the legal issues the justices are considering.

A two-day symposium, "As Iowa Goes, So Goes the Nation: Varnum v. Brien and Its Impact On Marriage Rights for Same-sex Couples," will be held Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 at the Boyd Law Building.

Symposium coordinator Emily Winfield said speakers will provide a general background of the issues under consideration by the justices in the case Varnum v. Brien.

The case was argued in December on appeal from a state district court, which held that same-sex marriages do not violate the state's constitution. The Iowa Supreme Court's decision is expected sometime by the end of the year.

"Our speakers will consider not only the legal issues, but ask the question, 'What happens if?'" said Winfield, senior symposium editor of the law school's Journal of Gender, Race and Justice. "We want to talk about the different directions this case could go as well as consider the role other factors, such as social science, might play in the resolution of the case."

Lawyers and scholars from groups that both favor and oppose same-sex marriage will participate in the moderated panel discussions. Panelists will examine such issues as Iowa's historical commitment to expanding civil rights, how state and federal laws affect the issue, and the use of social science and history in marriage rights litigation.

Among those participating in the symposium will be:

--Jean Love, a former UI law professor, and Pat Cain, former UI law professor and UI provost, both now teaching at the Santa Clara University School of Law.

--United States District Court Judge Joseph F. Batallion of Omaha, who held in 2005 that an amendment to the Nebraska state constitution banning same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution.

--Austin Nimocks, senior legal counsel, Alliance Defense Fund.

--Writer Dan Savage, author of the book "The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family," who will deliver the conference keynote. The book is a memoir recounting his and his partner's experience starting a family.

Academic events will be held in the Levitt Auditorium in the Boyd Law Building. Admission is free and open to the public. Savage's keynote address will be held during the symposium banquet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26 in the hotelVetro. Tickets cost $20.

A symposium banquet will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26, also at the hotelVetro. Tickets to the dinner cost $45. Registration is required by Feb. 21.

For more information, to register or to buy tickets to Savage's keynote, visit Tickets to the keynote are also available at Prairie Lights bookstore and the University of Iowa College of Law.

For information or to register visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell),

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