The Governor and Lieutenant Governor used their Inaugurations today to call for gay rights. Governor Tom Vilsack and Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson had the Des Moines Gay Mens’ Chorus perform at the Inaugural ceremony, right after the Lieutenant Governor had called on Iowans to create an environment that allows people to “step out…of the closet of shame and fear.”During his Inaugural Address, Vilsack asked Iowans to “soften their hearts and be open to ideas.” Vilsack says there are some in the legislature who believe that faith-based organizations should handle welfare programs, while others believe civil rights should be extended to gays and lesbians. He says perhaps there’s some “middle ground” where both can be accomplished. Vilsack repeated his call for welcoming immigrants to the state, something he drew fire for during his first term. Vilsack says “we must continue to welcome anyone and everyone to the state.” Vilsack’s general theme was a call for change.Vilsack says if Iowans are willing to “embrace change” there’ll be a new Iowa where all thrive, and where all can “live and love.” Vilsack touched on his general proposals for tax reform, improvements in education and reworking the state’s economic development efforts.Vilsack says “we must redouble our efforts to encourage the entrepreneur, the genius and the innovator by providing the resources and atmosphere so that they can…thrive.”Vilsack says policymakers “can’t just tinker. They must reinvent.”Vilsack conceeded that “some ideas may be difficult to accept or implement.” But the governor says he senses a great amount of cooperation between the legislature and his administration, and he says Republicans and Democrats are committed to getting the job done. The Inaugural Ceremony concluded shortly before 11 o’clock. Open houses are being held at the Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion this afternoon. The Inaugural Ball begins at eight tonight.
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