Affected Iowans, Kim Reynolds discuss policy targeting transgender people

Two transgender Iowans and an LGBTQ advocacy group are challenging the new statute intended to deprive transgender people of Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming surgery. The ACLU of Iowa filed suit in Polk County District Court on May 31 on behalf of Aiden Vasquez, Mika Covington, and One Iowa.

Listening to the plaintiffs explain why they took this step, I was struck by the contrast between their heartfelt, compelling words and Governor Kim Reynolds’ heartless, clueless excuses for signing discrimination into law.

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LGBTQ lives cannot be compromised

One Iowa Action: “We should not be encouraging half-measures and disparate treatment of our fellow Iowans.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Des Moines Register Opinion Editor Kathie Obradovich’s recent column sets out a laudable goal; protecting both religious liberty and the LGBTQ community (What if Iowa could protect both religious freedom and LGBTQ rights?).

Unfortunately, the substance of the piece misses the mark by pulling from erroneous source material that equates Utah and Iowa, two states with very different legal and political landscapes. In doing so Obradovich implies, perhaps unintentionally, that LGBTQ Iowans need to start from a place of compromise when their rights and freedoms are threatened.

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How the Iowa House passed the civil rights bill in 2007

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy shares his memories of an important legislative victory twelve years ago. -promoted by Laura Belin

Last month Iowans celebrated ten years of marriage equality. Two years prior, the legislature added protections for LGBTQ people to Iowa’s civil rights law. One of my children asked me to share that experience in writing. What you are about to read is an excerpt.

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10 years of marriage equality in Iowa

Ten years ago today, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously held in Varnum v Brien that the state’s Defense of Marriage Act “violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution.”

Justice Mark Cady wrote the opinion, which cost three of his colleagues (Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice David Baker, and Justice Michael Streit) their jobs in the 2010 judicial retention elections. Assigned the task of writing by random drawing, Cady “strongly believed the court should speak in one voice” on such a controversial matter, Tom Witosky and Marc Hansen wrote in their 2015 book Equal Before the Law: How Iowa Led Americans to Marriage Equality. In fact, Cady “was convinced there was no room for even a concurring opinion–an opinion in agreement with the court’s conclusion but not its reasoning.” (pp. 134-5)

Thousands of Iowans have enjoyed a better quality of life since our state became the third to give LGBTQ couples the right to marry. Lambda Legal, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of six Iowa couples, has posted a timeline of key events in the case. State Senator Zach Wahls wrote today about the Supreme Court decision’s impact on his family.

I wanted to mark this day by sharing highlights from Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of that historic event. My deepest condolences go out to the friends and relatives of former Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht. The Iowa Judicial Branch announced today that Hecht has died. He stepped down from the bench in December 2018 while battling melanoma. Of the seven justices who joined the Varnum opinion, only Cady, Brent Appel, and David Wiggins still serve on the high court.

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Reflecting on Donna Red Wing's legacy

On April 16, members of the LGBTQ community lost one of our most passionate and impactful trailblazers. Donna Red Wing passed away after a courageous battle with lung cancer on that day.

Donna’s legacy of service for the LGBTQ community is unparalleled. She was a national leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality, dedicating over three decades of her life to advocating for our community. Over the years, she held leadership roles at organizations like Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, the Gill Foundation, Interfaith Alliance, and others. While directing the Lesbian Community Project in Oregon, she was featured in a Sundance Award-winning film about the 1992 struggle (and victory) against Ballot Measure 9, a proposed amendment to Oregon’s constitution that, among other things, compelled public schools to teach youth that being LGBTQ is “abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse”. She also advised both President Barack Obama and Howard Dean on LGBTQ issues.

Donna moved to Iowa in 2012 to begin her tenure as One Iowa’s executive director. Despite living here for a relatively short time, she made an enormously positive impact in the fight for LGBTQ equality in our state. In addition to leading One Iowa for four years, she launched an LGBT Advisory Council while serving as a Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commissioner and briefly served as director of the Eychaner Foundation during her time in Iowa. The Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission recently renamed their Lifetime Achievement award after her to honor her extraordinary work championing equality for all in our state.

Over the past few weeks, One Iowa staff who worked with Donna during her time with our organization have been reflecting on our work with her, the enormous impact she had on our community, and our personal connection with her. We’d like to share some of those reflections with you:

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Iowans remember Donna Red Wing

Iowa progressives have been mourning the loss of a longtime advocate for justice and LGBTQ equality this week. Since Donna Red Wing passed away on April 16, Iowans who knew her well have shared their reflections and stories. With permission, I’ve posted some of those comments below.

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