Governor Tom Vilsack is accusing republican senators of discriminating against a gay man Vilsack has appointed to serve on the State Board of Education.Vilsack says Jonathan Wilson, a Des Moines lawyer, is well-qualified to set state education policy. Vilsack says Wilson’s served admirably and with distinction on the Des Moines School Board as well as national education groups. Vilsack say the concerns republican senators raise about Wilson are not about his qualifications but “about his sexual orientation.” Vilsack says, “It’s wrong, it’s divisive and it’s not inclusive.” He says its the Senate’s prerogative, but he says he hopes allowing Wilson to discuss his qualifications publicly, “that maybe some minds and some hearts can be changed.” Wilson will appear this afternoon at a Senate hearing. But Senator Nancy Boettger, a republican from Harlan, rejects the idea G-O-P senators who oppose Wilson are discriminating against him because he’s gay. She says “I wouldn’t say that at all.” Boettger says senators “get misinterpreted all the time” and will just have to do what in their hearts they think is right. Wilson served 12 years on the Des Moines School Board, but lost a bid for another term after he publicly announced he was gay. Boettger says that defeat is a major factor for republican senators. Boettger says Des Moines voters were “two for one against him.” Many republican senators say they’re uncomfortable with Wilson because he promotes a “gay agenda.” Boettger says it’s not the fact that Wilson’s a homosexual, but it’s because Wilson’s “an activist in that realm.” She says the mail she’s getting on the subject is overwhelmingly opposed to Wilson. Boettger says many believe he’ll push a gay-friendly curriculum on Iowa schools. She says “people don’t want that kind of pressure on school district.” Vilsack will leave Wilson’s name in nomination for the job and force the Senators to vote it down in public. Vilsack says it’s important for Iowans to understand some decisions at the statehouse are made for political reasons. Wilson will appear before the Senate Education Committee at four o’clock this afternoon. Senators must confirm Vilsack’s appointments to the Board of Education, and a nominee cannot serve without winning “yes” votes from 34 senators.
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