Staff Editorial

Eroding LGBTQ Iowans' rights

A pride flag during the 49th annual Iowa City Pride Fest on Saturday, June 15, 2019. (Ben Roberts/Freelance)
A pride flag during the 49th annual Iowa City Pride Fest on Saturday, June 15, 2019. (Ben Roberts/Freelance)

In her condition of the state speech, Gov. Kim Reynolds asked us to envision a better Iowa, one that “looks after the health and well-being of Iowans.”

But if that’s the governor’s mandate for this legislative session, some in the Republican Party is falling far short.

This year, GOP lawmakers have introduced 13 bills that target LGBTQ Iowans. One of the bills, HF2164 would have removed gender identity from Iowa’s Civil Rights Act.

Writing on her Facebook page, Rep. Liz Bennett noted, “This protection was added in a bipartisan manner and it has been part of our Civil Rights Code since 2007, ensuring basic rights like having a place to live and having a job. It’s a sign to people around the country that Iowa is a fair place to live, work, and raise kids and that if you’re looking at locating an office somewhere, Iowa is open for business to all. It means that if a member of my team is transgender, I don’t have to worry that we might be turned away from our lunch reservations because someone wants to discriminate against them in public accommodations.”

After overwhelming backlash, Rep. Steve Holt, promised the bill would not advance out of the judiciary committee.

One down, 12 to go.

The bills vary in their scope, but their intentions are all the same, erode the rights of LBGTQ Iowans.

Briefly, HF2272 would ban physicians and mental health professionals from providing medically necessary care to transgender youth. HF2202 would require student athletes to participate in school sports based on their sex assigned at birth.

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HF2184 prohibits public school teachers from engaging in “political or ideological advocacy” while carrying out student instruction or acting within the scope of employment. HF2201 would mandate warning parents whenever LGBTQ subjects came up in school curriculum.

HF2273 and SF2194 allow discrimination against LGBTQ people based on sex or gender under a religious exemption. SF2193 is a companion to HF2273. HF258 and SF508 also allow discrimination based on sex and gender under the excuse of exercise of religion. HF2130 expands the definition of religious belief, making religious discriminations easier to prove in a court.

HF2274 establishes study committee on gender identity, the Iowa Civil Rights Act and transgender suicides.

Each of these bills should not be allowed to leave their committees. Each one is a restriction of rights for LGBTQ Iowans and creates a state that is not only discriminatory but dangerous.

It’s incumbent on each Iowan and each elected official to do our part to make sure these bills are defeated and we make it out of 2020 without passing any restrictions on LGBTQ rights.

But even if we do, the message has already been sent loud and clear: many Iowa lawmakers have no intention of looking “after the health and well-being of Iowans.”

(319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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