Former Iowa Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and justices David Baker and Michael Streit were voted off the bench in 2010, a year after their ruling against an Iowa law restricting marriage to a man and a woman made gay marriage legal in the state.
Former First Daughter Caroline Kennedy announced on Monday (7 May) that the judges will be the recipients of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
‘The three judges are interesting and courageous on many levels,’ Kennedy told The Associated Press. ‘… Like many of the people who get this award, they don’t consider that they are doing anything particularly courageous, they just feel they’re doing what’s right, they’re doing their job.’
Ternus, Baker and Streit unanimously concluded that Iowa’s marriage law violated the state’s constitution. After their ruling, about $1 million was spent by conservative groups and other gay marriage foes who were successful in ousting the judges in a retention vote.
The Profile in Courage Award was created in 1989 by members of President John F. Kennedy’s family to honor him and to recognize and celebrate the quality of political courage they say that he admired most.
The award is named for President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer prize-winning book, Profile in Courage, which recounts the stories of eight US senators who risked their careers by taking principled stands for unpopular positions.
Caroline Kennedy said the Iowa judges ‘knew when they were writing this decision that it was gonna be a pioneering decision and a landmark decision and would face a lot of popular opposition. They also were following very carefully the Iowa constitution and the rights that it gives to its citizens.’