DES MOINES -- The Iowa Supreme Court refused yesterday to tamper with a lower court decision granting two women a dissolution of the civil union they formed in Vermont.
In a unanimous ruling, the court said a conservative group that sued to overturn the ruling had no standing in the case.
Kimberly Jean Brown filed for divorce from Jennifer Sue Perez. Their divorce petition said the two were married in March 2002 in Bolton, Vt.
Judge Jeffrey Neary granted the divorce, later altering the ruling to reflect that it was a termination of the couple's civil union.
The legal arm of the Iowa Family Policy Center in Des Moines and a handful of state legislators challenged the decision, saying Neary overstepped his authority. By dissolving the civil union, they said, Neary was recognizing gay marriage.
The Supreme Court said the group was not harmed by Neary's decision.
''We fail to see how the district court's action in dissolving a civil union of another couple harmed in any specific way these plaintiffs' marriages and for this reason, they have shown no legally recognized interest or personal stake in the underlying action," the high court said.
''Our task is not to judge the merits of the plaintiffs' contentions," the court wrote. ''Rather, our task is to determine whether these plaintiffs are the proper parties to bring this action."
Chuck Hurley, president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, said there was both good and bad in the ruling.
''The Supreme Court explicitly said they were not affirming same-sex civil union or marriage, but we are very disappointed that they had an opportunity to say to a rogue judge, 'You had no jurisdiction,' " he said. ''What that means is they've left the door cracked open, and I predict we'll continue to have more lawsuits."
Camilla Taylor, an attorney for LAMBDA Legal, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, said her group was ''thrilled the court recognized these antigay groups and extreme individuals do not belong in this case."