Guest Opinion | University Democrats at Iowa on recent legislation

The University Democrats at Iowa address recent efforts of the Iowa Legislature.


Ryan Adams

Participants chalk the sidewalk during the Trans Day of Visibility rally at the Pentacrest on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. The event was put on by the LGBTQ Iowa Archives and Library, and featured chalking and speeches by members of the community.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

Several members of our organization, the University Democrats at Iowa, recently had the distinct honor of meeting Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that made marriage equality the law nationwide at an event hosted by the University of Iowa’s Lecture Committee.

We were delighted by this opportunity to meet someone so crucial to advancing the goal of justice for all, and we were emboldened by his message to continue using our voices. But we were particularly struck by the timing of his visit to campus.

As Obergefell arrived on campus, a group of Republicans in the Iowa Legislature introduced bills to ban gay marriage in Iowa with House bills HJR 8 and HF 508. While these bills will not pass, as they failed to meet the required legislative deadlines, they serve as another indication of the broader attack on the LGBTQ+ community occurring in Iowa and across the country in recent months.

The actions of Iowa’s Republican Party and Republican lawmakers around the nation are nothing more than a tired backlash against the advancement of human dignity.

The arguments made in support of bills like Senate File 496, a policy advanced by Gov. Kim Reynolds that, among other things, would prohibit the use of preferred pronouns without parental consent, forcibly out transgender youth to their parents, and increase restrictions on student-accessible content, are based in lies.

Leaders in the state legislature and the Governor’s Mansion have painted members of the LGBTQ+ community to be menaces and predators, a sinister class of people whose influence must be beaten back to protect the safety of Iowans.

This could not be further from the truth. Iowans in the LGBTQ+ community are just as Iowan as our political leaders and those who seek to marginalize them from mainstream society.

They are our classmates, our colleagues, our neighbors, and our roommates. But most importantly, they are our friends and family members. The attacks against them are baseless — rooted not in high-minded or deeply held principles, but in politics of cruelty and fear that ought to be rejected by all Iowans.

As if the nasty, closed-minded spirit of these bills is not enough, it is important to remind everyone that these attacks have real-life consequences.

The lives of Iowans in the LGBTQ+ community would be made materially worse under many of these bills — limiting their access to information that would allow them to make informed decisions about their health (SF 391/HF 327, SF 496), cutting off access to potentially lifesaving gender-affirming care (SF 538/HF 623, SF 297), or opening them up to discrimination in the workplace and the classroom (SF 496, HF 616, HF 620).

The climate of hate these bills foster can also result in tragedy. When compared to their straight peers, LGBTQ+ youth are much more likely to experience suicidal behaviors and ideation. Policies like those advanced and passed in our legislature are dangerous, and they contribute to these awful trends.

“Iowa nice” has no room for the politics of bullies and bigots. The Iowa that promotes these politics — the resentful and intolerant Iowa that our state’s Republican Party seeks to create — is not one we want to live in. We believe in an Iowa founded on love, equality, and universal human dignity — an Iowa that leaves our friends alone.

 -University Democrats at Iowa