Radio Host Kevin Swanson, who organised 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.
“If any of the candidates step outside their anti-LGBT bubble this weekend, they’ll find that a strong majority of Iowans support LGBT equality,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs, a native Iowan. “That’s not surprising given that Iowa was the 4th state to establish marriage equality more than six years ago. Candidates cozying up to avowed bigots this weekend would do well to remember that discrimination and homophobia are not Iowa values. No candidate should appear with someone who casually encourages violence against LGBT people.”
A 57 percent majority of Iowans support marriage equality according to findings released this year from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute. Additionally, A 78 percent majority of all Americans support protecting LGBT people from discrimination. While Iowa has a non-discrimination law, a majority of state laws don’t explicitly protect LGBT people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equality Act would remedy this by including explicit protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in existing federal civil rights laws.
Opponents of the Equality Act are trying to advance the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which would leave LGBT people and vulnerable to taxpayer-funded discrimination. Polling released by HRC earlier this year shows little public appetite for FADA. In fact, a bipartisan 68 percent majority of Americans oppose allowing government employees to cite their religious beliefs as a reason to deny service to LGBT people, as FADA would do. Only 24 percent of Americans support allowing government employees to engage in Kim Davis-style tactics to deny equal treatment to LGBT people. Not only that, the polling also showed that 60 percent are less likely to support a candidate who supports a bill like FADA.
Iowa was the fourth state to establish marriage equality more than six years ago, and is one of the few states that boasts non-discrimination protections in employment, housing and public accommodations.