Dawn and Jen BarbouRoske have been together for more than 16 years. After Jen delivered their first daughter, McKinley, eight weeks early, they realized how vulnerable their family was because they were not married. The couple had to leave their daughter in the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital while they had an attorney draw up documents to protect Dawn’s parental rights. After facing this and other hardships that different-sex couples don’t have, Jen and Dawn joined five other same-sex couples in Lambda Legal’s lawsuit.
In December 2005 we responded to the needs of same-sex couples and their children in Iowa because we believe that the people and the laws of the state support equality. The case, Varnum v. Brien, argues that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates the equal protection and due process guarantees in the Iowa state constitution. The summary judgment hearing comes on the heels of the Iowa legislature’s approval of a bill that will make it illegal to discriminate in employment, public accommodations, housing, education and credit practices based on sexual orientation and gender identity.