Three LGBT-related cases are making their way through the Iowa state courts this month with Lambda Legal’s help…
In Rhoades v. Iowa, the plaintiff, a gay man, was previously convicted of intentionally exposing another person to HIV. His attorney advised him to plead guilty; never mind that the sex was consensual, they used a condom, and his “victim” did not actually contract HIV (i.e. the state would most likely have been unable to meet its burden of proof). Based on his guilty plea, he was placed on 5 years’ probation and listed as a sex offender. Now Lambda Legal is representing him in a suit for post-conviction relief, based on the claim that he had ineffective assistance of counsel. His appeal is pending before the Iowa Supreme Court.
Also pending before the state’s high court is Gartner v. Iowa Department of Public Health. The plaintiffs, a married lesbian couple, had a baby in 2009, but the child’s birth certificate only listed one parent. The Iowa Department of Public Health refused the couple’s request to correct the certificate, even with the well-established spousal presumption of parentage that their marriage created. They argued that the non-listed mother could achieve the same result by going through adoption proceedings. The trial court didn’t buy this separate-but-equal type of argument, however, and ordered the Department to issue a corrected certificate bearing both women’s names. The agency has refused to comply with the ruling, and their appeal is pending. Lambda Legal’s proof brief to the court is available on their site.
Not content to discriminate against just one lesbian couple, IDPH is also defending itself in Buntemeyer v. Iowa Department of Public Health. After one member of a lesbian couple gave birth to a stillborn boy in October 2011, they submitted their names as parents for the child’s death certificate. Flouting both the law of parentage and any sense of humanity, an IDPH employee visibly removed one of the women’s names from the “father’s” entry on the certificate. Iowa’s attorney general appears ready to vigorously defend the government in this suit, which was filed in March 2012 in the Polk County District Court, the same court that ruled for Gartner last year.