Staff Columnist

Lawmaker seeks permission to discriminate, throw up barriers to transgender Iowans

The ornamental decorations of the Iowa Capitol dome are seen from outside in Des Moines on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (And
The ornamental decorations of the Iowa Capitol dome are seen from outside in Des Moines on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

As state Rep. Sandy Salmon sees it, the notion of transgender Iowans being allowed to live their lives without state intervention has gone too far. She’s demanding Iowans who want to discriminate against them on religious grounds get special protections. And what’s up with Iowa’s courts having the power to overturn unconstitutional laws?

She’d like to see the manager.

The Republican from Janesville has filed several bills this month containing some of the worst ideas seen so far under the Golden Dome of Wisdom. And that’s really saying something.

There’s House File 193, in which Salmon steps in and legislator-splains to transgender minors that the “discordance between their sex and their internal sense of gender identity” they’re experiencing is just some sort of temporary phase they “will outgrow.” The bill declares that a person’s biological sex “will not be changed.” So Salmon’s bill would prohibit medical professionals from performing a long list of procedures and treatments on minors, with their medical license hanging in the balance.

There’s HF 184, the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which would confine interscholastic and intramural sports offered by schools and universities to men, boys, women, girls, coed or mixed. Disputes over a player’s gender would be settled by a signed statement from a physician establishing sex based on “internal reproductive organs,” testosterone levels or an “analysis of the student’s genetic makeup.”

Under HF 185, schools and libraries that expose minors to “inappropriate programing” could face criminal penalties for supervisors and a $75,000 civil penalty.

HF 170 is Salmon’s “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.” It permits Iowans with “sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions,” including that marriage is only between a man and a woman and sex is determined at birth, to receive legal protection should they choose to deny services, employment, adoptions, etc.

A lot of this sounds downright unconstitutional. But under Salmon’s HF 109, any Iowa Supreme Court ruling striking down a statute would be put on hold for a year. District courts and the Court of Appeals would be barred from invalidating a law.

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During that year, the General Assembly could compel specified justices to attend a public hearing where the ruling would be discussed and debated with lawmakers. After the hearing, justices would be given a chance to change their votes. If the ruling stands, two-thirds votes in the House and Senate could overturn the ruling.

Sure, it’s possible none of these bills will see the light of day. But this is an unpredictable Legislature with sharp ideological edges and no brakes on its power. All bills bear watching.

Regardless, Rep. Salmon needs to butt out of the lives of transgender Iowans. Seeking to use state power to throw up barriers and make it tougher for kids to make sense of their identity and live their lives is abhorrent and irresponsible. They want to play sports, use a bathroom or attend a library pride event, there’s Salmon shaking her finger.

Stop trying to marginalize and punish Iowans because you’re uncomfortable or unable to expand your understanding of humanity and human sexuality. Stop trying to use religion to paper over bigotry. And stop passing unconstitutional garbage bills. Sincerely, the management.

(319) 398-8262; todd.dorman@thegazette.com

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