April 16, 2007

Iowa: Another GLBT Rights Battleground State

With a 54-46 edge for Deomcrats in the state House, you would think passing a bill adding sexual orientation and gender idenity to an anti-discrimination bill regarding employment, housing, and public accomodations would get passed. However, in the state of Iowa, some of those Democrats represent some very rural, conservative districts that would have a hard time stomaching any such legislation.

The Iowa senate has already passed this bill, and pressure is coming to bear on the House to do the same as the legislative session comes to a close.

"Civil rights laws are designed to protect groups of people who have faced blatant and historic discrimination," said Carol Ryan Terrell, head of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa and Action Fund. "Civil rights laws do not give special protection to any person. They simply create a level playing field and guarantee the provision of tools necessary to fight and end discrimination."

When right-wingers whine about "special rights" they are talking about equal rights being granted to a minority that they are determined to discriminate against. That's one of those phrases that really grinds my cookies.

The Rev. Michael Pater, senior minister at the Urbandale United Church of Christ, said much of the opposition to gay rights comes from conservative religious groups, and lawmakers need to know there is more than one point of view in the religious community.

"The only motivation to withhold civil protection from discrimination and harassment of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered is religious bias," said Pater. "This bias does not serve the public good."

No, discrimination NEVER serves the public good, only those who wish to discriminate. Hopefully 51 members of the Iowa House realize that in time to pass this important legislation before their session is over.

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