The chairman of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission says Iowa should join the 18 states which have banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. David Leshtz’s comments come a day after a proposed state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage failed in the Iowa Senate.Leshtz says state government shouldn’t allow anyone in Iowa to be treated “like a second-class citizen.” Leshtz is among a group at the statehouse today, lobbying lawmakers to extend civil rights protections to gays and lesbians. Leshtz says he does not want to “see good people suffer simply because of their sexual orientation.” Leshtz says the “pain of discrimination” is something he doesn’t want any Iowan to feel. Josh Anderson, a student at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, says he is concerned about his safety at school. Anderson says gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth hear words like faggot and dyke about a dozen times a day. Robin Butler, a 40-year-old Iowa City resident, is at the statehouse today, too, talking about her 15-year relationship with her female partner. “What is it about this lifestyle that is so threatening that people have to single me out for discrimination?” Butler asks. Jesse Villalobos (vee-uh-LOH’-bohs), regional director for the National Conference for Community and Justice, says hate crimes are an “ugly reality” for Iowa’s gay and lesbian citizens. Villalobos says a constitutional ban on gay marriage is “hate-based public policy.” Five Iowa cities — Ames, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, and Iowa City — have adopted employment policies that ban discrimination against gays and lesbians and just last week the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors voted to add that language to its employment policy, too.
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