In a highly-anticipated decision released Friday morning, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down a state law restricting marriage to a man and a woman. The ruling makes Iowa the fourth state in the country to allow same-sex marriage.
According to the Des Moines Register, same-sex marriages aren't likely to begin immediately; instead, state and local officials will be given a couple months to prepare.
The decision is particularly significant politically because of Iowa's pivotal place in the presidential nominating process. The issue could play a big role in the state's Republican caucuses come 2012, especially as it would take until then before a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage could go to the voters. It'd be hard to blame former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, for instance, if he were dancing in the streets today. Someone like Huckabee, who already appeals to the evangelicals that play a key role in the GOP caucuses, could really benefit from this decision.
There are also general election implications to this decision. If a constitutional amendment is indeed up for a vote in 2012, there's the possibility that socially conservative voters will be particularly energized, and will come to the polls and vote Republican. The state swung pretty decisively in Barack Obama's favor last fall, but could end up being a battleground in 2012.