aroundtheregion

Iowa
*A bill to ban conversion therapy passed the Iowa Senate on Tuesday, the Des Moines Register reports:

Iowa mental health professionals would be banned from trying to change the sexual orientation of gay patients younger than 18 under a bill approved on a straight party line vote Tuesday by the Iowa Senate.
Senate File 334 was passed 26-24. All Democrats voted in favor. All Republicans voted no. The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled House, where it will likely be declared dead amid strong opposition from Christian conservatives.

*Gov. Terry Branstad continues to be the target of a lawsuit by an openly gay administration who says he was subject to discrimination, KCRG reports:

Gov. Terry Branstad has denied knowing that former state Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey was gay or that it would have influenced his decision to lower the commissioner’s pay even if he did.

South Dakota Progressive notes that the case hinges on a meat processor who wanted Godfrey gone:

According to court documents released to the Associated Press on Wednesday Dakota Dunes-based slaughter house BPI was among the business clique who raised concerns about a state official GOP Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad tried to force from office.

*The Des Moines Register took an in-depth look at gender non-conforming children, the laws that protect them, and the hurdles children and parents have to face:

The 5-year-old boy prefers his hair long, his fingernails polished and his closet full of skirts and dresses. He has been more feminine than masculine for as long as his mother can remember, gravitating to princesses and American Girl merchandise rather than princes and toy soldiers….

Talon doesn’t mind being mistaken for a girl. In fact he has asked his mother, Loni Jorgenson, if he can be one when he grows up. She said yes, but doesn’t know what that will mean — if it will involve a sex change operation or living as a transgender person. All she knows is that she will, with his doctor’s backing, support her son to express his identity as he experiences it — not force him to squeeze into a box he doesn’t fit.
Talon is a gender-nonconforming child in a generally gender-conforming society. “When he needs new clothes, we go to the girls’ aisle,” said Jorgenson, who has a background in child development and works as a family navigator for special-needs children.

South Dakota
*Lawyers in the South Dakota marriage equality case filed briefs in an appeal to the 8th circuit.

*KELO asked South Dakota pastors about their views on the decision for the Presbyterian Church to allow same-sex marriages:

This has been a decades-long debate for Presbyterian USA. Pastor Val Putnam, with Westminster Presbyterian Church, believes this decision is long overdue.
“We do have members in this congregation that are in a committed relationship that are gay and lesbian, and we embrace that,” Putnam said….
Not everyone agrees. Another Presbyterian Pastor interprets things differently.
“A man and a woman. Jesus, when he addresses the issue in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 19, specifically talks about it that way. A man and a woman leaving their father’s and mother’s home,” Pastor Dave Ullom, Wild Flower Presbyterian Church, said.
In his opinion, Ullom said this decision does not reflect South Dakota’s views on the topic.
“It would be detrimental, because once those kinds of approvals are made, it’s like crossing a line,” Ullom said.

*South Dakota’s legislative session ended last week, and four anti-LGBT bills never made it to the governor’s desk. Equality South Dakota sent out a press release as well as a scorecard that lists lawmakers votes on LGBT issues:

These bills were ugly, they can even be described as mean. But they were defeated. Even though Rep. Bolin and Sen. Greenfield and their allies were determined to get HB 1195 passed, they failed. For a detailed report on the political maneuvering see the EqSD Blog post: Death of Transgender Bills.
Equality South Dakota wants to thank everyone who contacted their legislators. Your support was crucial.
Equality South Dakota greatly acknowledges the ACLU of South Dakota for their guidance and assistance in the defeat of these bills.
It was unfortunate that these bills made it to floor votes, but since they did, we finally have a voting record of each legislator on a transgender bill. For the past seven years, bills were always killed in committee so we only knew the position of that committee member. This year the transgender bills had floor votes whereby each legislator had to take a position on the bills.

*The Argus Leader’s Jill Callison interviewed Todd Allen, a drag queen who performs under the name Brittany Brooks. The Argus Leader did a profile on Allen in 1991, and Callison’s article takes a look at how attitudes have changed in South Dakota toward LGBT people since 1991:

One letter-writer said, “Let’s keep South Dakota clean and keep this kind of abnormal behavior where it belongs, like in big coastal cities like Philadelphia, or at least the closets.”
“I didn’t realize how hateful and mean spirited a lot of them were,” Allen said recently after reviewing the comments. “I admit when I did the interview I wasn’t expecting to be on the front page of the Saturday edition, but then I was thankful. I think people’s perceptions have changed over the years.”

North Dakota
*Forum Communications notes that the bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity will be heard in the House on Monday:

It’s been more than a month since the Senate narrowly passed SB2279, which would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in North Dakota.

The bill makes its House debut with a hearing at 9 a.m. Monday before the House Human Services Committee. It’ll be held in the Brynhild Haugland Room, the Capitol’s biggest meeting room.

Supporters expect the bill to face a tougher road in the House, where a similar bill died 34-54 in 2009 after passing the Senate.

James Kerian, writing at one of South Dakota’s most popular political blogs, Say Anything, takes issue with the effort to ban discrimination against North Dakota’s LGBT community members (Kerian doesn’t mention his position as board chairman for the anti-LGBT North Dakota):

This isn’t about using the power of the state to end discrimination. They can’t find any to end. This is about using the power of the state to create intimidation. Mrs. Stutzman, a florist in the state of Washington, declined to design a floral arrangement for her “friend and longtime customer” who asked her to provide services for a same-sex wedding ceremony. She had no objection to serving homosexuals. She had known her friend was a homosexual throughout their business relationship. She treated no one with hatred or antipathy. She referred her friend to another florist so they could receive the services wanted. But for declining to participate in a same-sex wedding she has been found guiltyby a state judge in Washington of violating the state’s anti-discrimination law.

Forum Communications columnist Jane Ahlin penned a column urging the legislature to pass the bill:

Today I’m hopeful that the Legislature of North Dakota will end legal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. SB 2279 has crossed over to the House and should be passed. The people affected aren’t “others”; they are our friends and neighbors.

Wisconsin
*University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh students staged a production of “8” last week, according to the Advance-Titan:

UW Oshkosh students, faculty and staff joined together to perform the production “8” as a celebration of success for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
“8” was written by David Lance Black and was produced by Broadway Impact and the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

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