Iowa
Civil rights groups are concerned about a voter ID bill that could make it harder for transgender Iowans to vote, the Des Moines Register reports:

The Iowa Senate gave final approval Thursday to contentious legislation that will require voters to show government-issued identification at the polls and will reduce the time period for early voting.
House File 516 passed on a 28-21 vote with Republicans casting all the yes votes. Democrats and one independent all voted no. The bill now heads to Gov. Terry Branstad, who is expected to sign it.

One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, issued a statement criticizing the legislation.
“If this bill becomes law, it will disenfranchise many Iowa voters who may be members of the LGBTQ community like people of color, people with disabilities, elderly people, and others in a misguided attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, One Iowa’s executive director. “Transgender Iowans will face unique challenges at the polls due to how difficult obtaining identity documents that accurately reflect their name and gender can be.”

A former University of Iowa athletic director has moved forward with her lawsuit alleging anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the schools’ athletics department, Yahoo Sports reports:

The former associate athletic director at the University of Iowa will square off against the school in a trial Monday that centers on her claim that she suffered discrimination as a gay female who fought bias in college sports.
The trial in a lawsuit brought by Jane Meyer is expected to litigate whether Athletic Director Gary Barta’s personnel decisions were necessary judgment calls or tainted by discrimination.
Several Hawkeye coaches, including football’s Kirk Ferentz, are expected to testify at the trial, scheduled for up to three weeks in Des Moines. Lawyers told a judge Thursday a last-minute settlement wasn’t likely.
Jurors will determine whether Meyer suffered workplace discrimination due to her gender and sexual orientation, whether she endured retaliation for complaining of bias against female coaches, and whether she was paid less than a male administrator who performed similar work. If violations are found, jurors will decide how much to award Meyer in damages for pay and emotional distress.

Wisconsin
The city of Sun Prairie is considering adding gender identity to its nondiscrimination ordinances, WISC reports:

Leaders in Sun Prairie are considering two ordinances that would protect people based on their gender identity or gender expression.
The city would be one of only a handful in Wisconsin to have an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.
Two south-central Wisconsin cities, Madison and Janesville, have similar ordinances on the books. Appleton, Cudahy and Milwaukee are the other Wisconsin cities to adopt ordinances protecting transgender citizens; Dane and Milwaukee counties are the only two counties to do so.
Ginger Baier, a transgender woman who serves on Sun Prairie’s diversity committee, said while the city’s residents have been welcoming to people like her, getting a law on the books would show to the larger community that transgender people matter.
“It says to me as a transgender woman that Sun Prairie and the people of Sun Prairie value me,” Baier said. “We’re not protected under current ordinances.”

Two Wisconsin legislators, State Rep. Mark Spreitzer and State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, sent a letter to the state’s insurance board protesting the exclusion of transgender-specific health care. That letter can be read at Our Lives Madison. Here’s an excerpt:

We write to you to express our deep concern over the Group Insurance Board’s (GIB) decision to strip essential healthcare away from many of the state employees to whom you hold a fiduciary duty to assist. Because of that decision, many in Wisconsin’s transgender community and their loved ones will suffer significant risks to their health and welfare.
At its December 30, 2016 meeting, the board retreated into closed session to reinstate an exclusion to the State of Wisconsin’s Group Health Insurance Program that deprives state employees of necessary health care. This exclusion will allow the state to refuse coverage for “[p]rocedures, services, and supplies related to surgery and sex hormones associated with gender reassignment.”

South Dakota
The Argus Leader’s Stu Whitney profiles a gay couple who recently adopted a child while the state implements a law that could prevent such couples from adopting in the future:

Nine-month-old Emmersyn Julia Roling held on tight as the red wagon rolled down the sidewalk, her squeals of delight drowning out the drone of the wheels.
Both her dads beamed with pride.
It’s become a familiar sight in this southwest Sioux Falls neighborhood – Greg Roling and Larry Sandal taking a stroll with their adopted daughter, experiencing the same joys and anxieties of any married couple on a thrilling, uncharted journey.
“Sometimes people stop and wonder what’s going on,” says Roling, 39, a convenience store manager for Hy-Vee. “But most of the time they walk up to us and tell us how cute she is.”
He and Sandal, 29, were realistic enough to know they faced stiff challenges in starting a family. For same-sex couple in conservative South Dakota, the prospects are increasingly daunting.
The state made national headlines last month with a law aimed at providing protections for faith-based adoption agencies that deny child placement to gay couples, which civil rights groups such as the ACLU denounced as legalized discrimination.
Roling and Sandal went through non-religious agencies and were connected with a birth mother in Tennessee, a complicated and often frustrating process that resulted in the adoption of Emmersyn and their new role as parents.
“We want the same things as everybody else,” says Roling, who officially married Sandal, 29, in 2015. “We want a family. We want to be able to take care of our child. We want to give her all the opportunities that any other child out there deserves.”

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Andy Birkey
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.

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