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Appeal sought over lesbians' divorce

DES MOINES -- A conservative advocacy group and six legislators asked the Iowa Supreme Court yesterday to overturn a divorce decree that ended a civil union that two lesbians obtained in Vermont.

Because Iowa law defines a marriage as a union between a man and a woman, the judge's decree recognized a marriage that never existed, the Iowa Liberty and Justice Center argued.

"Judges are appointed to rule according to the law, not create it," said Timm Ried, the lead attorney for the group.

Judge Jeffrey Neary granted the divorce Nov. 14 in Woodbury County District Court. He said he did not immediately notice the gender of the couple involved but decided to let the decision stand because the US Constitution requires states to recognize one another's laws.

Republican Representative Danny Carroll, among the six legislators joining the appeal, said the plaintiffs seek to uphold Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1997: "If the decision is let stand, then there would be those [who] argue that the state by default has recognized same-sex marriages, which is contrary to state statute." The women -- Kimberly J. Brown, 31, and Jennifer S. Perez, 26 -- were joined in a civil union in March 2002 in Bolton, Vt. Brown's attorney did not return a call seeking comment. A phone listing could not be found for Perez.

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