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Will Iowa Be the Next State to Ban Gay 'Conversion Therapy'?

An Iowa Senate subcommittee voted 2-1 on Wednesday to advance a bill banning harmful gay "conversion therapy" for minors, the Des Moines Register reports:

GarrettMost people who spoke at Tuesday's hearing supported the ban, including support from some religious organizations.

Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, said his organization was in support of the bill, though he did express concerns about how it may affect counselors at private Catholic schools. He said he spoke about the bill with counselors at Catholic Charities, as well.

...After hearing an hour of testimony, the subcommittee voted to amend the bill so that it would also protect individuals from conversion therapy based on their gender identity, though it stopped short of extending those same protections to transgender individuals.

Sen. Julian Garrett (pictured), the subcommittee's sole Republican, was the dissenting vote.

California, New Jersey, and D.C. have passed laws banning gay "conversion therapy". A similar bill is under consideration in Illinois. Recent attempts to pass the legislation in Virginia and New York have failed.


Iowa Couple Wins Lawsuit Against Wedding Venue That Discriminated Against Them

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Iowa man Lee Stafford and his fiancé, Jared, who were turned away from a Grimes, Iowa wedding venue because they're gay reached a settlement two years after Stafford levied a lawsuit at the venue for discrimination reports KCCI News. The incident occurred two years ago when the couple approached Betty Odgaard and her husband, the owners of Gortz Haus where the couple hoped to wed, to host their wedding there. The Mennonite couple refused them citing that the marriage conflicted with their personal religious beliefs. Stafford then pursued the case with the Iowa Civl Rights Commission. Tom Conley with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission affirmed that Iowa law states that commercial enterprises cannot discriminate against patrons. 

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.22.28 AMThe settlement included paying $2,500 to both Lee and Jared along with an agreement from the owners of Gortz Haus to not discriminate in the future. However, the owners of Gortz Haus have since closed the venue to all couples and no longer offer weddings or receptions for straight or gay couples. The Haus couple states weddings were a large part of their business but Gortz Haus still offers other services. The Odgaard's still say they stand by their convictions and faith after the results of the settlement. 


Iowa High School Coach Describes 'The Power Of Coming Out' To Homophobic Friend

Writing on OutSports, Evan Risk, a junior high school track & cross-country coach in rural Iowa, has explained what happened when he came out to his homophobic friends.

RiskRisk explains how at a basketball game, a friend told him about a “great” idea to change the word “beer” to “queers” in a team chant.

The friend suggested that "In heaven there is no beer that's why we drink it here, and when we're gone from here our friends will be drinking all the beer” could be changed to “In heaven there are no queers, that's why we kill them here, and when we're gone from here our friends will be killing all the queers.”

Risk continues:

“I thought about what I should do for the next few days. Then we went to another basketball game and he said to me during the game, ‘Yeah in my town people say we never had any gay people but that's not true, we killed them all before they were eight.’

“After the victory that night, he sang the killing queers song. Just as before, I had no idea what to do. I didn't say or do anything at the time.

“Regardless of the outcome I knew I had to come out to him. I didn't want to hear the homophobic comments anymore.”

Risk says that when he finally came out, his friend replied:

"I'm really glad you told me. And I'm sorry about what I said earlier.  I'm really glad I know that about you. We're definitely still friends."

Describing how coming out had a positive effect on his friend, Risk says:

“After I came out to him in December we remained friends and on the last game of the season his roommate came with us the final game in March.  

“[The roommate] was talking about something the other team was doing and said ‘That's so FUCKING GAY.’

“I put my head down, not sure exactly what to say.

“My other friend quickly chimed in - ‘Don't say that. Don't say that word.’

"That is the power of coming out."

Check out Risk's full story over at Outsports HERE.

 


Iowa Gubernatorial Candidate Warns Voters: Gay Marriage In Jeopardy

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Democrat and Iowa State Senator Jack Hatch (pictured) is running for governor, and he's warning voters that this year's state election could be crucial for gay marriage.

The GOP is poised to take control of the state's government; the party currently controls the House, and things look good for a Republican-led upset in the Senate — the Democrats currently have majority by a thin margin of 26-24.

Further, the Des Moines Register speculates that Senator Hatch defeating sitting Republican Governor Terry Branstad would be an "uphill battle."

Hatch emphasizes that if House, Senate, and Governorship go red on November 4, things could get complicated for Iowa's same-sex married couples. Says Hatch:

It is very clear [getting rid of same-sex marriage] will be [Republicans'] No. 1 priority and Iowans should be very skeptical of that...People who believe in marriage equality should realize the rights we have in Iowa are only as good as the quality of our politicians and the words of our Constitution. If they want to change the words of our Constitution, we should be very scared of the agenda of the Republican leadership.

Gay marriage in Iowa was legalized by a unanimous State Supreme Court vote, but the decision could be effectively reversed via amendment to the Iowa constitution, as Hatch says. An amendment first must pass simple majority votes in the House and Senate for two consecutive general assemblies. Then, if this happens, the amendment goes out to the citizens for a vote, and it becomes law if it gets approval from a simple majority of voters.

As Hatch points out, with regard to gay marriage, this year's election is a tight and crucial one. 


Iowa Lesbian Couple Wed After 72 Years Together Speaks Out: VIDEO

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Earlier this month, we told you about Vivian Boyack (91) and Alice “Nonie” Dubes (90), the Iowa couple who finally tied the knot after being together for 72 years. The story of their wedding went viral and suddenly, two women who had learned to live very private and quiet lives were thrust into the spotlight. After numerous requests for interviews, Vivian and Nonie finally decided to open up and share their story. The Des Moines Register reports: 

They got flowers and letters from people they didn't even know.

For so long, their love was not public. But when the news broke about their Sept. 6 wedding, their story was spread across the Internet and social media. In one week, decades of silence ended. They had never before talked to anyone about their relationship.

"In all those 72 years, no one said anything about it, either negative or positive," said Vivian, 91, sitting across the dining hall table from Nonie, 90, on Wednesday at a Davenport retirement community where they have lived since 1987.

Though the couple says, "we've always been married in our hearts," their friend Jerry Yeast, whose known the pair since he was in college, noticed one remarkable change in the couple since they said "I do":

"I began to hear them addressing each other as 'sweetie' or 'dear' which they had never done before in public," he said. "They had learned to live with their heads down so long. And now they don't have to live with their heads down."

Watch the touching interview with the couple, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Hillary Clinton Speaks To Thousands of Iowan Supporters, Hints About Presidential Bid: VIDEO

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Hillary and Bill Clinton made a public appearance at the 37th annual Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa this past weekend. Despite being a tribute to retiring Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, the more than 5,000 attendees treated the event more like a presidential rally, sporting “Ready for Hillary” paraphernalia.

Both of the Clintons encouraged the crowd, composed of Iowans and out-of-towners from Kansas and Kentucky, to remain active and engage in the Democratic party’s Senate and congressional campaigns.

“Hello, Iowa, I’m back," Clinton intoned to the cheering crowd. “Let's not let another 7 years go by."

Clinton last spoke in Iowa after placing third in the 2008 Iowa caucuses behind Barack Obama and John Edwards. Despite not explicitly making any mention of her plans on running in 2016, Clinton took time to talk to her supporters about “that other thing.”

“Too many people only get excited about presidential campaigns,” she expressed. “It’s true, I’m thinking about it. But for today, that’s not why I’m here.”

Despite her insistence on keeping the gathering focused on Senator Harkin, Harkin himself made a point of highlighting Clinton’s career and assuring the crowd that there were “many more chapters to be written in the amazing life of Hillary Clinton.”

Watch footage of Hillary Clinton speaking at the 37th annual Harkin Steak Fry AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Hillary Clinton Speaks To Thousands of Iowan Supporters, Hints About Presidential Bid: VIDEO" »


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