A group of Iowa religious leaders went to the state capitol today to lobby for civil rights for homosexuals. The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa is urging the Iowa House to pass a bill adding “sexual orientation” to Iowa’s civil rights law which bans discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation.
Interfaith Alliance executive director Connie Ryan Terrell says she and a group of ministers were at the capitol to “educate” legislators. “Oftentimes religion is used as a tool against the idea of civil rights for all people — including people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual (or) transgender,” she says. “We wanted to be a different religious voice.”
Representatives of the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Church, and the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa joined Terrell to speak in favor of civil rights for gays and lesbians at a statehouse news conference earlier today. “The lawmakers who were present were very appreciative of having clergy at the statehouse voicing that prophetic voice and calling for an end to discrimination against a whole group of people,” she says. “That’s what civil rights laws are about.”
But Democratic leaders who control the debate agenda in the Iowa House say they do not have the 51 votes necessary to pass the gay rights bill. The legislation passed the Iowa Senate last month and Governor Chet Culver has said he would sign it into law if it passes the House, too.