aroundtheregion

North Dakota
*Republican Rep. Randy Boehning came out last week after sending pictures of his penis to a man on Grindr. Boehning claims he outed himself before others at the North Dakota Capitol could in retaliation for his voting against protections for LGBT North Dakotans, the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reports:

Boehning refused to identify at this point who he believes is behind the purported political payback for his vote against Senate Bill 2279, the third such bill defeated in the past six years by North Dakota legislators.
The exchange came to light when Dustin Smith, a 21-year-old Bismarck man with no known connections to the Capitol, contacted The Forum earlier this month, saying he recognized Boehning from a gay dating smartphone app called Grindr. Chatting under the user name Top Man!, Boehning sent Smith sexually suggestive messages and, in the early morning hours of March 12, an unsolicited photo of his penis, according to exchanges reviewed by The Forum.

Watchdog.org’s Rob Port spoke with Boehning shortly after he came out:

Boehning declined to “rat out” the lawmakers who made the threats.
“I don’t want to use the words I’d probably use,” he said of the alleged threats. “That’s not the way we do business. This is my seventh session out there (in Bismarck), and this is one of the first times I’ve ever heard of something like this.”
Boehning says he’s concerned other lawmakers may become afraid to cast tough votes on controversial bills out of fear details of their personal lives would be used against them.
“Are we going to have some other very controversial bill, if they’re hiding in the closet are they going to be afraid to vote that way?” he asked.
Asked specifically about why he voted against Senate Bill 2279, he said this sort of “bullying” figured into his thinking.
“That probably gave me stronger opinions against the bill,” he said. “The threats. That’s bullying. I don’t succumb to that kind of hate or anger. We’re all there to do a job, and I don’t think anyone should be bullying anyone out there.”

Columnist Jim Shaw of the Forum of Fargo-Morrhead has no problem with Boehning being gay or that he voted against protections for LGBT people. It was the picture of his penis that Shaw has an issue with:

What does bother me is that Boehning sent an explicit picture of himself. This is conduct unbecoming of a state legislator. When New York Congressman Anthony Weiner sent out similar pictures, he was forced to resign from Congress. I’m glad that he resigned. Too bad the North Dakota Legislature does not have an ethics commission to look into the Boehning situation.

*Several North Dakotans were in Washington, DC., as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a key marriage equality case, the Forum reports:

“Love can’t wait” … “Love is equal” … “Love wins” ….
These slogans were shouted out Tuesday morning by hundreds of people who gathered on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court while justices heard arguments over whether gays and lesbians across the country should have the right to marry.
In the middle of the crowd stood Cindy Phillips and Jan Jorgensen, a Fargo couple who traveled to Washington for the rally. The crowd’s chanting and singing was moving, Phillips said, but it didn’t do much for her ears.
“I think my hearing has been destroyed,” she said, with a wry tone.

Iowa
*An Iowa mother is speaking out after her daughter, who was bisexual, took her own life, KCCI reports:

Alyssa Morgan’s mother contacted KCCI saying that her story needed to be told. Alyssa was a seventh-grader at Southeast Polk Junior High School.
Nicole Morgan said her daughter didn’t feel like she was worthy after she was constantly bullied by her peers.
“She liked drawing, taking selfies and putting make-up on, just your typical 12-year-old girl,” said Morgan.
She said her daughter faced anguish every day that she went to school.
“I got to the point where you know, she wasn’t happy anymore and she was self-harming herself,” said Morgan.
Morgan said Alyssa was bullied for being openly bisexual.

*Iowa state Republican National Committeewoman and talk radio broadcaster, Tamara Scott raised eyebrows last week when she suggested that feminists should oppose marriage equality:

Scott said banning same-sex marriage ensured an equal number of men and women were married.
“So my laugh is, why wouldn’t you want equality in a marriage?” she continued. “Why aren’t those same women wanting that same argument at home? Because we know children do better when they’re raised by their biological parents.”
McClarty warned that “the extreme feminist movement and the gay liberation movement” were hoping to destroy marriage as institution by allowing same-sex couples to wed.
Scott said she couldn’t even support civil unions because that would lend state support of “the act” that “God has not condoned” and violate her religious freedom to remain unaware of gay couple having sex.
“The whole point of our concern with the same-sex marriage is that the act, that God has not condoned it,” Scott said. “I can’t condone what he’s condemned, I just can’t go there. So to ask or to force American citizens to condone something that’s against their deeply held religious convictions is wrong. So whether you call it marriage or you call it a civil union, you’re still asking your fellow citizens to embrace something that goes against their First Amendment religious protections.”

*The Des Moines Register editorial board called on the US Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage:

In the final analysis, we give respect to the views of all Iowans on the issue of same-sex marriage — religious or otherwise — by giving respect to our constitutional principles. These principles require that the state recognize both opposite-sex and same-sex civil marriage. Religious doctrine and views contrary to this principle of law are unaffected, and people can continue to associate with the religion that best reflects their views. A religious denomination can still define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and a marriage ceremony performed by a minister, priest, rabbi, or other person ordained or designated as a leader of the person’s religious faith does not lose its meaning as a sacrament or other religious institution.

*Dowling Catholic High School rents facilities owned by Valley High School, a public school in Des Moines. After Dowling refused to hire a gay teacher, Valley High students are asking the district to extend its nondiscrimination policy to organizations that rent school facilities, the Des Moines Register reports:

Outraged by a Dowling Catholic High School decision to not hire a gay substitute teacher full-time, students at Valley High School are asking West Des Moines school board members to reconsider how they rent a football stadium the private school uses.
Valley students say there is a loophole in the district’s nondiscrimination policy, which includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity but is not required of individuals or organizations that rent the district’s facilities.
Monday, students presented a petition, signed by nearly 230 students and community members, to revise the policy to require renters to sign an agreement that they would abide by the district’s nondiscrimination policy in their organization.
“Some people may be wondering if this has anything to do with the recent scandal at Dowling, and the answer is yes,” Valley junior Danielle Reyes said during the meeting’s time for public comment. “Rather than engaging in petty mudslinging, we should use this opportunity to examine how our school district can improve.”

*An Iowa community college has created gender inclusive housing options, KETV reports:

Iowa Western Community College is changing its housing application and creating designated space in a residence hall for LGBT students and their allies.
The school said its only for students who ask to be involved or who say they’re open to it, but they told KETV NewsWatch 7 that the feedback has been positive and emotional for students.
Leo Morales was, at first, hesitant to live on campus.
“Because I am transgender,” Morales said.
Legally female, Morales identifies as male.
“If I lived on the male side, I’d feel more comfortable. I don’t feel like I’m pinpointed out,” Morales said.
Iowa Western Community College Residence Life Director Liz Luiken said it’s a student need that she noticed months ago.

*Students at Iowa State University are exploring ways to make campus more inclusive including the addition of gender inclusive housing, the Iowa State Daily reports:

Gender-neutral housing is just one way Iowa State can be even more inclusive for its students.
Gender-neutral housing, in this sense is mainly for transgender people, gender queer people, non-gender conforming people and maybe those who just feel uncomfortable living with the same sex in a dorm setting, said Adam Guenther, senior in animal science and president of the LGBTA Alliance.
“Technically, in some liberal interpretations, Iowa State already has gender-neutral housing, but when it comes down to it not many universities have the kind of neutral housing we are talking about,” Guenther said.
While there have been numerous meetings between LGBT Student Services, Student Government and the Department of Residence, Guenther said meetings are often productive, but they’ve always fizzled out.
“We like to say it takes an army to create change, and it does,” said Dan Carney, a social justice and equity educator for the LGBTSS center and a graduate assistant.

*Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King spoke outside the US Supreme Court as the justices were hearing arguments in a key marriage equality case. King told the audience gathered that the Supreme Court doesn’t have the authority to rule bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the Omaha World Herald reports:

Outside, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was arguing that the court should never have taken the case at all.
“They don’t have the constitutional authority to make a decision on marriage,” King said. “That’s a decision that needs to be made by the people.”
As King spoke from a lectern bearing the hashtag “#standformarriage,” allies held up their own signs with messages such as “Every child deserves a mom and dad.”
King is among Republicans who would like to stop the court from ruling on same-sex marriage. He recently introduced legislation that would strip the courts of any authority to hear cases related to the definition of marriage.
“I didn’t want to go down that path, but these federal courts have pushed us there,” King said. “We have a civilization to protect.”

King was also interviewed by Newsmax where he said marriage equality will transform civilization:

If the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry, it will “transform our civilization for a long time to come,” Rep. Steve King tells Newsmax TV.

“We’ve got thousands of years of human history and we know a man or a woman joined together hopefully in holy matrimony, blessed by children, raising the children in that family unit is the essential building block of all society,” King, a Iowa Republican, said Tuesday on “The Steve Malzberg Show.”

Wisconsin
*Gov. Scott Walker, who is running for president despite not officially declaring, spoke with a conservative blog in Iowa last week and called for a federal amendment against same-sex marriage, the Washington Blade reports:

Likely Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker has expressed support for a U.S. constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage in the event the U.S. Supreme Court issues a decision in favor of gay nuptials.
The Wisconsin governor made the remarks in an interview published Wednesday byCaffeinated Thoughts, a conservative blog in Iowa, following his participation in the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Spring Kickoff on Saturday.
Federal courts have struck down the ban on same-sex marriage in Wisconsin, but Walker said he remains hopeful as a result of pending marriage litigation the Supreme Court will uphold prohibitions on gay nuptials. Such a ruling would enable his administration to relitigate the case that brought marriage equality to Wisconsin.
“I may be one of the few out there, but I’m still hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court, not in our case, but it would apply to our state’s case if these other states are victorious,” Walker said. “I still am going to hope that the United States Supreme Court will say, ‘yes indeed, states have a right to define what marriage is.’”

*WSAW took a look at what effect a decision on marriage equality by the U.S. Supreme Court could mean for Wisconsin:

Gay marriage is legal in Wisconsin after a federal court ruled a ban was unconstitutional last June.
Professor and Chair of the UW-Stevens Point Political Science Department, John Blakeman said if the Supreme Court rules that the Constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry, then nothing changes in Wisconsin. But if they decide the opposite, then it could raise some questions in our state.
“If the justices rule that the Constitution protects same-sex marriage, the debate’s pretty much over. If they decide the Constitution does not protect same-sex marriage, the debate goes back down to the state level and state legislatures have to fight it out,” Professor Blakeman said.

*The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce is honoring a slate of businesses, the Milwaukee Business Times reports:

The chamber’s annual awards program applauds the work of members who are proactive in creating a more diverse and inclusive business climate in Wisconsin.

Foley & Lardner LLP has been named winner of the Corporate Partner of the Year Award, which salutes a corporation that is a chamber member dedicated to diversifying the workplace and expanding Wisconsin’s LGBT and allied business community.

Ed Seaberg, vice president of IT service operations at Rockwell Automation, has been deemed Business Leader of the Year. The award recognizes a leader who has taken an active role in cultivating diversity in Wisconsin businesses.

Additionally, Belwah Media, of Beloit, has been named LGBT Business of the Year, an accolade given to an LGBT-owned business that is a chamber member and that has demonstrated success in diversifying the workplace. And Le Dame Footwear, based in Verona, has won the Allied Business of the Year Award, an award honoring an allied-owned business that belongs to the chamber and has also succeeded in shaping a more diverse business community in Wisconsin.

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