Feb. 1, 2011
Polk County District Court Judge Robert B. Hanson, whose ruling in a lawsuit opened the door to same-sex marriages in Iowa, will present a lecture at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 22, at Morningside College.
Hanson’s lecture will focus on his decision in Varnum v. Brien that Iowa’s 1998 Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed marriage only between a man and a woman, violated the state’s constitution. The lecture is open to the public and will take place in the Yockey Family Community Room in Morningside’s Olsen Student Center, 3609 Peters Ave. The lecture is sponsored by the Morningside Civic Union and the Morningside Gay Straight Alliance.
Hanson ruled in 2007 on behalf of six same-sex couples who had filed suit against the Polk County recorder for refusing to grant them marriage licenses. The Iowa Supreme Court later unanimously upheld Hanson’s ruling. In November 2010 judicial retention elections, Iowa voters removed from office three Supreme Court justices who participated in the ruling on Varnum v. Brien. Polk County residents voted in the same election to retain Hanson as a judge for Iowa’s Fifth Judicial District.
Hanson was appointed to the bench in 2003. He received his undergraduate education from Stanford University in 1978. He went to the University of Iowa and earned his law degree in 1981. He clerked for the Iowa Supreme Court and practiced law privately prior to his appointment.