Home News Around the Region: IA pastor suggests death for LGBTs at event with Huckabee, Cruz, and Jindal

Around the Region: IA pastor suggests death for LGBTs at event with Huckabee, Cruz, and Jindal

Around the Region: IA pastor suggests death for LGBTs at event with Huckabee, Cruz, and Jindal


Religious right figurehead Kevin Swanson organized an event that was attended by GOP presidential hopefuls over the weekend. Swanson has repeatedly called for the death penalty for LGBT people, including at the event featuring GOP candidates.

The Human Right Campaign warned about Swanson in a press release:

This weekend in Iowa candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are scheduled to address the nation’s largest “religious liberty” gathering. Radio Host Kevin Swanson, who organized the event, has a long history of anti-LGBT rhetoric from suggesting “the nazi party had their birth in a homosexual bar or homosexual bar scene in berlin in the 1920s,” to saying that people could “tell gay couples to die on their wedding day.”

The event kicks off renewed activity by anti-LGBT activists in Iowa. Candidates will join the Iowa Family Leader for a presidential forum in Des Moines Nov. 20.

CNN asked Ted Cruz about Swanson’s statements urging the murder of LGBT people:

Swanson did not disappoint his critics. On Friday of the conference, he defended his position, according to Right Wing Watch:

After interviewing both Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal at his “National Religious Liberties Conference” this morning, radical right-wing pastor Kevin Swanson returned to the stage to discuss the issue of how Christians are to live in an increasingly debased and secular society.

During his remarks, Swanson reiterated his view that both the Old and New Testament require the death penalty for the crime of homosexuality, as well as his position that any Christian who attends a gay wedding can only do so in order to hold up a sign informing the couple that they ought to be put to death.

He drove home his point with a passionate declaration that if he ever found out that his own sons was gay and that son invited him to his wedding, he would show up covered in “sackcloth and ashes” and then smear himself in cow manure as he sat on the steps of the church and wailed lamentations.

“There are families, we’re talking Christian families, pastors’ families, elders’ families from good, godly churches,” Swanson said, “whose sons are rebelling, hanging out with homosexuals and getting married and the parents are invited. What would you do if that was the case? Here is what I would do: sackcloth and ashes at the entrance to the church and I’d sit in cow manure and I’d spread it all over my body. That is what I would do and I’m not kidding, I’m not laughing.”

One Iowa, the state’s LGBT advocacy organization, held an opposing religious liberty forum in Des Moines, the Des Moines Register reports:

As presidential candidates speak more about religious freedom as the Iowa caucuses near, One Iowa, an LGBT rights advocacy group, held a panel Saturday morning to discuss the First Amendment right and how its definition has changed.

“Some people are running for office in an effort to turn the White House into a central headquarters for the deconstruction of religious freedom,” said the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, the keynote speaker. “We cannot let that happen.”

During the One Iowa panel at the Iowa State Historical Museum, Gaddy and other community members shared their thoughts on religious freedom and how its definition has changed to allow discrimination toward the LGBT community and changes to women’s reproductive choices, education and immigration. The event coincides with the 2015 National Religious Liberties Conference, which U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke at.

In other Iowa news, the Iowa State Daily profiles the campus’ LGBT police liaison:

It can be easy for various groups around campus to at times feel isolated or unsafe on a campus full of people who aren’t similar to them.
Thanks to Lt. Joshua Hale of the ISU Police Department, people who are part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Student Services have someone from the police department who will be there for them if they ever need somebody.
Hale, who has worked for ISU Police since 2003, has been the liaison for LGBTSS for about three years.
“Really what we are trying to do is create positive relationships,” Hale said. “I’m someone that they can come and talk to if they aren’t comfortable talking to any other officer. Also we are trying to encourage the reporting of crimes and personal safety training and awareness.”

The Verona Area School District continues to develop a gender-inclusive policy, and met last week to finalize the policy, Verona Connect reports:

The draft policy created by a transgender ad hoc committee would allow transgender students to use bathrooms of their gender identity.
Single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms would be designated for students who “have a need or desire for increased privacy, regardless of underlying reason.”
The committee met for the third time Thursday, Oct. 22, where it parsed language like “mays” and “shalls” to finalize the bathroom rule and other parts of a draft to send to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards before it comes back to the Verona Area school board to be voted on as a policy. A WASB official will review the language to tell the district if anything could be a problem legally or to propose adding language that has worked in other districts.
There’s plenty else in the policy, from bullying and harassment prohibitions to how a student can have his or her records changed to reflect a preferred name and pronoun, but the bathroom policy would likely have the greatest effect on every student at Verona schools. It’s also one that could be invalidated by a recently proposed state law, though it’s unclear if that will go anywhere in the Legislature.
Discussion on the bathroom section of the proposed Verona Area School District policy included clarification on what the language “consistently asserted” gender meant, with one Verona Area High School student on the committee questioning that wording.
“There are people who are gender-fluid who some days are more feminine and some days are more masculine,” Noa Seward said. “If you’re gender-fluid, you don’t get to use any of the bathrooms that aren’t single stall.”

Conservative websites are attacking the University of Wisconsin for offering transgender-inclusive services. For example, Campus Reform, a conservative outlet, knocked the schools voice therapy services:

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is offering “voice feminization therapy” for male students claiming to be transgender women.
As part of the university’s “Transitioning at UWM” resource, the university encourages students to utilize “voice feminization therapy for male-to-female transgender clients” offered by the UWM Speech and Language Clinic, which claims to treat “voice disorders in adults and children.” Elsewhere on the UWM website, the university claims voice feminization therapy is a “non-medical option” that allows transgender students to “live their gender identities.”
Michelle Johnson, the Media Content Manager at UWM, told Campus Reform that the school provides the voice feminization therapy “in compliance with nondiscrimination policies established by the university and the American Speech Language Hearing Association.”

Republican lawmakers canceled a committee hearing on an anti-transgender bill because they weren’t prepared, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

A controversial bill that would bar transgender students from using certain bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools has been pulled from a public hearing scheduled for Thursday, two days after a similar policy in Illinois was found to have violated federal law.
An aide to state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), who chairs the Assembly’s Education Committee, said the measure will be rescheduled later in the month. He said the item was pulled to give lawmakers more time to be “fully prepared for a good hearing.”
The revision to the agenda comes two days after the U.S. Department of Education found that a similar policy at a Palatine, Ill., school distriction violated the federal Title IX anti-discrimination law.
The Wisconsin bill, proposed by Republican lawmakers Rep. Jesse Kremer of Kewaskum and Sen. Steve Nass of Whitewaer, would require public schools to designate gender-specific restrooms and locker rooms — effectively barring transgender students from using facilities in line with their gender identities.

Meanwhile, their bill continues to spur debate, Media Milwaukee reports:

“This bill absolutely violates federal law,” says Harper Jean Tobin, the director of Policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality. “The Department of Justice and Department of Education has made it very clear that this would be discrimination based on gender and therefore violates Title IX.”

A gay couple lost a battle regarding the birth certificate for their child, WKOW reports:

A state appeals court says a judge properly dismissed a gay couple’s request for a declaration that one of them is the legal parent of the other’s child.
One member of the female couple was artificially inseminated and gave birth in June 2014. Days later the couple got married after a federal judge legalized gay marriage in Wisconsin.
The couple asked a Winnebago County judge in November 2014 to declare the woman who wasn’t inseminated is the second legal parent. A judge dismissed the petition, saying the couple really was seeking a declaration that statutes using the terms “husband” and “wife” are unconstitutional but failed to notify the attorney general’s office.
The 2nd District Court of Appeals agreed in a ruling Wednesday. The couple’s attorney didn’t immediately return a message.

North Dakota
Becca Devine, staff writer for the Dakota Student, calls on the state and North Dakota State University to do better by LGBTQ students:

I have to say that I am disappointed with the lack of laws protecting the LGBTQ community in North Dakota, but I am not surprised. What does shock me is the lack of resources for LGBTQ students on campus. We are fortunate to have a great student organization like the Ten Percent Society but there needs to be more. When it comes to resources for the LGBTQ community, we have to take a look at NDSU. When paging through their handbook, it is amazing how much their campus has done for the student community.
Some resources that NDSU have include: a resource room that provides education for faculty, staff and students on campus, safe zone areas, scholarships for the LGBTQ students and gender neutral bathrooms.
UND needs to have faculty willing to take part of safe zone training to become more informed with LGBTQ topics. Not only will this allow students to feel safe but faculty can be allies and provide other resources for students on campus. Having the option of gender neutral bathrooms is important because no student should have to leave a building in order to use the bathroom.

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Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.


  1. An ABOMINATION, Nasty word After all, isn’t that what it says in the Bible?

    No—and progressive religionists should not use the word. It’s a mistranslation and a misconception, doing harm to LGBT people and religious people alike.

    This is what Christians as Ted Cruz, and others in Iowa are using regularly to make their Point, of religious suffering. Most Christians trust their Bible interpretations to their Ministers or Priests. Not always a good idea when the Leaders have an Agenda they are working for.

    Christians are not following that which Their namesake CHRIST Taught and Lived. [Lots of Hypocrites in their Group] Two items, the favourite Commandment of Christ, [Love your neighbour as yourself] and The Golden Rule !! All well and good as they see it, yet how can you be a Christian and not follow His Path as Taught ??

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