Contextualizing Varnum V. Brien: A 'Moment' in History

33 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2009

See all articles by Patricia A. Cain

Patricia A. Cain

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Date Written: December 14, 2009


Varnum v. Brien is the last case in a line of state constitutional law challenges in what has been a a fifteen-year campaign by LGBT public interest lawyers seeking legal recognition for same-sex couples. While the litigation may be over for now, the larger battle is just beginning. The Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling in Varnum will play a central role in this future battle. It stands as part of a major “moment” in the modern history of recognizing equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. This article describes the historical context in which Varnum was litigated and identifies three important “moments” or shifts in the battle for marriage equality.

Keywords: same-sex marriage, Varnum, marriage equality, Iowa constitution, LGBT, gay, lesbian, homosexual, DOMA, defense of marriage act

Suggested Citation

Cain, Patricia A., Contextualizing Varnum V. Brien: A 'Moment' in History (December 14, 2009). Journal of Gender, Race and Justice, Vol. 13, No. p. 27, 2009, Santa Clara Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-19, Available at SSRN:

Patricia A. Cain (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

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