aroundtheregion

Iowa
Several GOP candidates for president are attending a conference organized by a pastor who has backed the death penalty for LGBT people, Right Wing Watch:

The organizer of the “National Religious Liberties Conference” in Des Moines, Iowa, announced today that Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal have committed to speaking at the summit, which will take place next month. One speaker at the conference, Iowa radio host Steve Deace, has said that Ben Carson has also RSVP’d for the event, although Carson’s name was not included in today’s press release.
Kevin Swanson, the conference’s chief organizer, is a far-right pastor and host of the “Generations Radio” program, on which he has frequently claimed that the government should put gay people to death, warned that the Girl Scouts and the movie “Frozen” turn girls into lesbians and blamed natural disasters on gay people and women who wear pants. (Update: Swanson is not the only activist speaking at the conference who backs the death penalty for homosexuality).

Officials in Iowa are working to come up with a plan for how authorities treat transgender inmates, the Des Moines Register reports:

Iowa prison officials are in the midst of drafting a policy addressing the treatment of transgender inmates, although it’s not clear yet whether state officials will approve spending taxpayer money for sex-reassignment surgery.
Fred Scaletta, assistant director of the Iowa Department of Corrections, said Monday a state prison system medical committee is currently drafting a policy regarding transgender inmates. The committee is headed by Dr. Harbans Deol, the prison system’s medical director, and it includes nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and pharmacists, Scaletta said. The policy is expected to become final in two to three months.
Iowa’s prisons, which on Monday held more than 8,300 men and women in nine state institutions, currently house one transgender inmate being held in a correctional institution for men, while one other transgender inmate was recently released, Scaletta said.

A pending hearing on an LGBT youth conference by anti-LGBT Republican lawmakers is garnering attention across the country. In Slate, Mark Joseph Stern lays out the issue:

The Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth is a vital resource for gay, bi, and trans kids in Iowa—an annual gathering where students, parents, and educators work together to combat bullying and suicide in Iowa schools. Republicans want to shut it down. Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, chair of the Iowa House Oversight Committee, has scheduled a hearing to investigate the conference, alleging the most recent gathering contained “obscene material.” The conference isn’t actually sponsored by the state, but Kaufmann is concerned because some Iowa schools use taxpayer money to transport students there.

What “obscene material” is Kaufmann describing? A breakout session at which social justice advocate Sam Killermann and adolescent sexuality expert Dr. Karen Rayne discussed sexual health. In 2015, extremist anti-gay fringe group theFAMiLY LEADER sent an undercover operative to monitor the session and reported that, during the Q&A, Rayne actually answered students’ questions about sex. Her session is hardly the focus on the conference. But Kaufmann has seized upon it as a justification to investigate and possibly terminate the conference, now in its 11th year. (Students who attended vigorously deny Kaufmann’s claims.)

Raw Story also took a look at the issue:

Lawmakers in Iowa will investigate an annual event for LGBTQ youth after bizarre claims by the Republican chair of the state House Oversight Committee, KCCI-TV reported.
“Kids as young as 12 to 13 were encouraged to practice safe bondage,” state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R) said. “They were told about apps that could help them locate the nearest orgy.”
Kaufmann said he received around two dozen complaints concerning “obscene material” presented at the Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth, which hosted discussions this past April covering anti-bullying, sexual health, and suicide-prevention techniques, among other topics.

A drag show at Iowa State University helped raise funds for students to attend an important LGBT conference, Iowa State Daily reports:

Lip-syncing, dancing and drag hit the stage as dollar bill after dollar bill rained on the performers as the Fall 2015 Drag Show commenced.

“Did everyone get their flu shots? Because tonight’s going to be sickening,” asked Onyxxx Gemz, a co-host of the show.

The annual fall Drag Show, held Saturday night in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union, was hosted by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Alliance and disk jockeyed by KURE 88.5.

The show featured performances by Robyn Davis, Brianna Gay, Molly Pumps, Heidi N. Dix, Shadya Severe, G-Dragon, T.O.P and Jasper.

Attendees were encouraged to dress in Halloween costumes and bring their dollar bills to help raise donations for members to go on their annual trip to the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference in 2016.

North Dakota
A judge in North Dakota ordered the state to reimburse legal fees related to a lawsuit to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The award, however, was less than attorneys were hoping for, the Associated Press reports:

A federal judge has awarded legal fees to a national gay rights group that sued North Dakota on behalf of a same-sex couple.
However, U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson awarded only $57,000, less than half of the $124,000 that Lambda Legal and the Minneapolis-based Faegre Baker Daniels law firm had been seeking.
Erickson said in his ruling that the hourly rate requested for attorneys who worked on the case was too high, that some work was duplicative and that there was ”an excessive amount of time spent on simple issues.”
Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in June 2014 on behalf of Fargo couple Jan Jorgensen and Cindy Phillips. The couple married in Minnesota and sued North Dakota because the state wouldn’t recognize their marriage.

Advocates in North Dakota are working to strengthen services for LGBT community members affected by domestic violence and sexual assault, according to a letter to the Dickinson Press:

With the LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee, the North Dakota Department of Health and the North Dakota Women’s Network have taken a community-based approach to assess the awareness of and services provided by the domestic violence/rape crisis agencies in North Dakota to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault within the LGBTQ community.
Our brief, confidential survey is open to all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity and is aimed at those who have needed domestic violence or rape crisis services or are close to someone who has needed these services. It is important for these stories to be collected because no one should feel alone and like help is not available.

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