Last year, when Iowa adopted same-sex marriage, most, if not all of the press it received claimed major surprise. Could this really be Iowa? Was this midwestern state really farther ahead than California and New York? At the time, I shared some of the surprise, and figured the advancement of marriage equality was the product of timing and circumstance. But when I saw this posted to Twitter today, I realized that it had been far more than merely timing and circumstance. Iowa, really is ahead of the curve in terms of creating a space where equality that grow.

Governor Chet Culver proclaims Wednesday January 27 Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance Day. This is the fourth year of Iowa’s GSA Day – and Iowa is the only state in the nation with such an event.

There are a few words thrown around when discussing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (GLBTQ) rights. Equality, Tolerance, Liberation are but a few. Unpacking the language used around these issues is a blog post all by itself. But there are two points I want to make today.

Today honors Gay-Straight Alliances in high schools and colleges.

The day, organized by Iowa Pride Network seeks to honor student GSA groups in high schools and colleges that work to end violence and harassment of students including those that are GLBT.

Meanwhile here in Pennsylvania, our currently recognized state-wide organization has two bills introduced in the house, that don’t seem to be going anywhere fast. Maybe the approach is all backwards. By focusing almost exclusively on legislation, we are missing the opportunity to change public perception and build alliances. Yes, in Iowa, the far right has tried to overturn same-sex marriage, but the vast majority of Iowans are fine with letting it be.  We don’t have that broad level of acceptance that Iowa seems to demonstrate. The moderate stays more moderate in Iowa- or so it seems.

GSA’s make a difference!

GSAs decrease absenteeism, name-calling, harassment and assault. According to the 2007 Iowa School Climate Survey, in schools with GSAs, GLBT students are:

· 25% less likely to be verbally harassed because of their gender

· 23% less likely to skip class

· 23% less likely to be physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation

· 21% more likely to report never having been sexually harassed at school

· 12% less likely to be physically harassed or assaulted because of their gender expression

Where is our governor?

This is the fourth year for this event, and I have to admit, I feel a bit jealous. Here in Pennsylvania, I don’t think it is a secret that our governor is more supportive of GLBTQ rights than he is against them. But where is his public statement or any public notice from him on our issues? Governor Rendell hasn’t even publically come out and spoken in favor of the passage of HB 300, a nondiscrimination bill that covers housing, employment, and public accommodations.

I believe the thinking is that most of the state is more conservative, and so it is better for the governor to be quiet. But what does Iowa say about that type of strategy?

We have two democratic candidates running for governor. Take a few minutes to pick up the phone or drop them a letter and ask them: Will you be more voal on GLBTQ issues than the current governor?

via Iowa Gov. Chet Culver proclaims ‘Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance Day’ |

One Comment

  1. A friend sent me this related link.