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5 Years: Major Milestone for Marriage Equality in Iowa

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Five years ago - April 3, 2009 - was the day the Iowa Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in Iowa.

"It was a day for celebrating and we did," Reverend Rich Hendricks told News 8's Angie Sharp on Thursday, April 3, 2014.

Pastor Rich, with Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad Cities, has been part of the push for marriage equality from the beginning and five years later, he is celebrating another beginning.

"We got our building permit today from the city of Davenport so we're very pleased with that and are looking forward to renovating this space."

The "space" is the former Blockbuster on Locust Street in Davenport. Pastor Rich says it will support his growing congregation with a bigger parking lot, a building that is handicap-accessible, and even room for a small community coffee shop.

"A coffee shop where folks can drop in, just visit, and connect with each other," he says. "We're thinking of calling it the Holy Grounds Cafe."

Since 2009, Pastor Rich's church has married hundreds...

"I quit counting after that first year and so I don't really know [how many]," he laughed. "It's been a lot of them, but it has been wonderful to get to meet so many interesting people from all over the place and I'll miss that part as marriage equality becomes legal in more locations."

"My favorite story is the international wedding that I did down on the riverfront where one groom was from Russia and he 'skyped' in his parents. The other groom was from Chicago and 'skyped' in his parents and the two witnesses were actually from Mexico, so it was just a wonderful international event."

In the last five years, Pastor Rich says he believes the nation has made huge strides towards marriage equality, but he adds that we still have a long way to go.

"There are still people that are animated by bigotry and ignorance, I think."

However, he says he thinks that's starting to change. For example, Illinois recently became the 16th state to legalize same-sex marriage and he says Iowa - though the 3rd state that legalized -- is still leading the way.

"Iowa has been in the forefront of equality for women, equality for African-Americans, equality for LGBT folks and so I'm very proud to be an Iowan."

"The polls show an overwhelming support for marriage equality," he adds. "It's been nice because this community is so accepting. Everywhere that I go with my husband, we're accepted and I've never been the victim of any ill will."

Pastor Rich says Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad Cities is always open to new members and to donations for their expansion project. To learn more, click here, or you can send a donation to:

Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad Cities

P.O. Box 2692

Davenport, Iowa 52809