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Iowa Senate OKs Ban On Gay Conversion Therapy — 'The Worst Kind Of Child Abuse'

Iowa

In a straight (no pun intended) party-line vote, the Iowa Senate on Tuesday approved a proposal to ban gay conversion therapy for minors. 

Twenty six Democrats voted in favor of the measure, while 24 Republicans voted against it. 

The bill would prohibit licensed mental health professionals from attempting to change the sexual orientation of anyone under 18. Only California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., have passed similar laws. 

The Des Moines Register reports: 

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, urged support for the bill, saying lawmakers were seeking to prohibit a discredited practice.

"I am heterosexual, and I would hate to go to a therapist who would try to convert me to be gay," said Bolkcom, adding that the legislation would send the message to Iowans that "being gay is OK." ... 

Sen. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola, spoke against the bill, saying the most important issue is one of choice.

"There may be parents and minors who desire this kind of counseling, and should we deprive them of that choice, particularly if they want to go to a licensed professional?" Garrett said. "I believe we ought to leave this choice up to the parent and the minors involved. If they do want it, it should be their right."

Matthew_McCoy_-_Official_Portrait_-_84th_GAOpenly gay Iowa Sen. Matt McCoy (right) called conversion therapy "the worst kind of child abuse" and urged his colleagues to "stand on the right side of history." Unfortunately, the bill isn't likely to pass the Republican-controlled House, due to opposition from Christian conservatives. 

It's interesting that these so-called Christians couch arguments against conversion therapy bans in terms of freedom, yet they do not support the freedom to marry. 

Also, it's notable that unlike other proposed conversion therapy bans around the country, the Iowa bill — which you can read here — doesn't include gender identity. 

This is a curious exclusion, especially in the wake of the highly publicized suicide of trans teen Leelah Alcorn.

Most state and national LGBT organizations have long had a policy of not supporting legislation that isn't fully trans-inclusive. So it's unclear to us why this standard isn't being applied to conversion therapy bans. 

CORRECTION: Gender identity and expression are included in the Iowa bill under the definition of "sexual orientation change efforts." 


Ted Cruz: I'm The Biggest Anti-Gay Bigot In The 2016 GOP Presidential Field

Cruz.Ted

Facing intense competition for the anti-gay vote, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is aiming to set himself apart from the rest of the 2016 GOP presidential field. 

The Republican Primary promises to feature a healthy crop of truly formidable homophobes, from Rick Santorum to Mike Huckabee to Bobby Jindal to Ben Carson

But in a speech on Monday in Iowa, Cruz laid claim to the notion that he may be the No. 1 opponent of same-sex marriage. From The Des Moines Register

Cruz, R-Texas, described the ongoing shift toward legal recognition for gay couples as an "unrelenting assault on traditional marriage," and castigated judges who have struck down prohibitions for "ignoring their oaths, ignoring the Constitution and legislating from the bench."

The issue is one that Cruz said distinguishes him from other potential candidates in what looks to be a crowded 2016 presidential field. While others have de-emphasized or dropped altogether their opposition to same-sex marriage, he said, he would continue to make it a priority.

Cruz delivered his speech to a crowd of about 200 Iowa religious leaders and their spouses behind closed doors in a hotel ballroom in Des Moines. Although the American Renewal Project's "Pastors and Pews" event was closed to the press, reporters were able to hear and record Cruz's remarks from the corridor outside.

Cruz went on to call President Barack Obama "an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism." Also attending the event was Cruz's whacko father, Rafael Cruz, and it reportedly ended with attendees "laying hands" on the senator for an extended period. 

While it's truly scary that he's a US senator, let alone a presidential candidate, we're not going to argue with Cruz's claim about marriage, even though Huckabee or Santorum might have something to say. After all, Cruz is the author of legislation that would strip federal benefits from same-sex couples who live in states that don't recognize same-sex marriage, and he plans to introduce a federal marriage amendment later this year. 

The question is, while it may play well with social conservatives in Iowa, where Santorum won in 2012, will the anti-gay marriage card work in other early primary states like Nevada and New Hampshire, especially if the U.S. Supreme Court delivers nationwide marriage equality in June? Or will Cruz's campaign ultimately fizzle because he happens to be a total nutjob? 

For a look at what the other GOP presidential hopefuls have said about marriage, check out this recent report from CNN


Nebraska Lesbian Couple’s Pride Flag Stolen And Burned By Neighbor: VIDEO

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An Omaha, Nebraska couple awoke in the middle of the night to find their neighbor from down the street stealing and lighting the pride flag they fly from their front porch on fire reports The New Civil Rights Movement. Ariann Anderson and Jess Meadows-Anderson woke up around midnight on Sunday after hearing noises outside their home, and both thought their home was being broken into. Jess ran downstairs to check on their two girls while Ariann ran to the window and saw the suspect, 23-year-old Cameron Mayfield who lives 10 houses down the street from the Andersons, flee with the smoldering remnants of their flag down the street. 

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 5.37.57 PMPolice later arrested and charged Mayfield with felony second-degree arson; a resisting arrest charge was added after Mayfield attempted to flee from police when authorities tried to question him at his home. Mayfield’s father told media that his son recently lost his job, was denied unemployment benefits and was drinking at the time; Meadows-Anderson expressed some sympathy for Cameron.

Said Meadows-Anderson: 

"You almost feel bad for a minute. He’s a young man and he made a hate-filled, drunken mistake that will have a lasting effect on his life and his family."

The suspect’s father says Cameron will remain behind bars until after his arraignment but believes the incident wasn't motivated by hate. Meanwhile Jess and Ariann have bigger news to celebrate after a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, ruling it unconstitutional. The Andersons, who originally married in Iowa and plan to marry again in their home state once it becomes legal, have already replaced their burnt flag with a bigger, and much brighter, pride flag on their front porch.

You can watch the Anderson's interview with local news regarding the incident, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Nebraska Lesbian Couple’s Pride Flag Stolen And Burned By Neighbor: VIDEO" »


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.

 


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