On Wednesday, December 4, at 5:30 pm, a coalition of Iowa organizations will hold an educational panel on HIV to discuss the criminalization of HIV and AIDS in the state and the work to reform Iowa laws. The panel will be held at the new office location of the Project of Primary Health Care (formerly the AIDS Project of Central Iowa), located at 1200 University Avenue, Suite 210, in Des Moines.
What: HIV Educational Panel
When: Wednesday, December 4, at 5:30 pm
Where: The Project of Primary Health Care, 1200 University Avenue, Suite 210, Des Moines
Who: Spokespeople from One Iowa, Community HIV & Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network (CHAIN), the Project of Primary Health Care, and the Iowa Department of Public Health
RSVP requested. Click here to reserve your spot today.
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, a case with far-reaching implications for employee rights, religious freedom, and women’s health. Hobby Lobby, a for-profit corporation with 559 stores that employs 22,000 people nationwide, asserts that the private religious views of its owners can be used to deny certain healthcare benefits to its employees.
The following is a statement from Donna Red Wing, Executive Director of One Iowa, the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organization:
“Religious freedom is a foundation for American democracy and is a right we reserve for individuals and bona-fide religious institutions. Religious exemptions, however, are not something this nation grants to for-profit corporations. If corporations can impose the will of the owners on their employees regardless of the law, what would stop them from discriminating against employees on a strictly religious basis in all sorts of ways, from healthcare to workplace discrimination?
Today, the U.S. Senate voted to reform its internal procedures to end the supermajority filibuster and allow simple yes or no votes on most executive and judicial nominees made by the president. This reform came after Senate conservatives waged an unprecedented level of obstruction against President Obama’s judicial and executive nominees. The Iowa Fair Courts Coalition supports this needed reform and Senator Tom Harkin with his vote to put the Senate back to work for the American people.
“The American public is tired of partisan shutdown and the politics of nullification,” said Sue Dinsdale, Executive Director of Iowa Citizen Action Network . “By reforming its internal rules, the Senate will finally return to its constitutional role: advice and consent; not obstruct and delay.”
Donna Red Wing, Executive Director of One Iowa added, “A fully-staffed federal bench matters. We hope that this important reform represents a renewed focus on filling the many vacant seats on our federal courts that make rulings on important issues—from LGBT equality to women’s health to workers’ rights—that matter to all Americans.”
Wednesday, November 20, marks Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember transgender and gender non-comforming individuals who have been killed as a result of transphobia, or the fear of transgender people. Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer, founded this national day of awareness in 1998. Since its inception, Transgender Day of Remembrance has been held annually on November 20 and slowly evolved into a worldwide phenomenon, recognized in over 185 American cities and more than 20 countries.
This year in Des Moines, the transgender community and its allies will come together to recognize those we have lost in the past year. One Iowa, the state’s leading transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual organization, and community organizer Sophia Stone, who leads the Des Moines transgender support group called Transformations, will hold a vigil on the west steps of the Capitol building. The names of transgender people who have lost their lives in the past year will be read aloud. Brief remarks will also be made by community members.
What: Transgender Day of Remembrance
When: Wednesday, November 20, 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Where: West steps of the Capitol building
(Des Moines)–The United States Senate made history today when it voted 64-32 in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, protecting LGBT people from discrimination on the job. Only 17 states–including Iowa–and the District of Columbia expressly ban discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Another four states expressly ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Our nation still largely lacks explicit protections against discrimination in the workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. ENDA will next face a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
ENDA was pioneered by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Senator Charles Grassley voted against the bill, citing religion reasons.
(Des Moines)–On Tuesday, November 5, District Court Judge Karen Romano granted a temporary stay to block a decision passed by the Iowa Board of Medicine that would have banned the use of telemedicine abortions to women in outlying clinics. In a statement issued Wednesday, the socially conservative organization The Family Leader–the group that ousted three competent Iowa Supreme Court justices in 2010 because of their role in the marriage equality decision Varnum v. Brien–suggested that Judge Romano should also be ousted in an upcoming 2016 retention initiative.
“In 2010, Iowans held three activist supreme court judges in check when they voted ‘no’ on their retention,” the Family Leader said in their statement. “Apparently Judge Romano has not learned a lesson from that vote.” The Family Leader went on to encourage “Iowans to remember Judge Karen Romano’s activism when she is up for retention in November 2016.”
A majority of Republicans in the U.S. Senate today obstructed the nomination of the extremely qualified D.C. Circuit nominee Patricia Millett, an accomplished attorney who has argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme court. Despite the fact that Millett had the support of a majority of the Senate, her nomination fell short of the 60 “yes” votes needed to clear a procedural filibuster from the Republican minority.
The number of judicial seats on the D.C. Circuit Court – 11 – is determined by law, but conservative Senators have indicated that they will refuse to allow President Obama to exercise his constitutional duty to fill vacant seats on this vital court. Millett would have filled one of three current vacancies on the Court. Two other qualified nominees to the D.C. Circuit – Judge Robert Wilkins and Cornelia “Nina” Pillard – expect to receive similar filibusters from obstructionists in the Senate.
Majority Leader Harry Reid today filed for cloture on the first of three nominees to the D.C. Circuit, Patricia Millett. This means that the Senate will soon determine whether she will receive a final yes or no vote on her nomination or be filibustered by Republicans. Millett, along with the two other D.C. Circuit nominees Nina Pillard and Robert Wilkins, has received outstanding ratings from the American Bar Association. If all three are confirmed, they would return the influential court to full operating strength.
Currently, nearly 30 percent of the active judicial seats on the D.C. Circuit are vacant. President Obama has the constitutional obligation to fill judicial vacancies, the number of which is determined by law passed by Congress. Although every other president since Jimmy Carter has appointed at least three judges to the D.C. Circuit Court, President Obama was the first since Woodrow Wilson to go a full term without getting a single nominee confirmed to it.
(Iowa City)–Since the landmark ruling from the United States Supreme Court striking down Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the lingering questions for married same-sex couples in Iowa have been, How does this affect us? or What now? One Iowa is working to help answer these questions during an interactive discussion Friday night at 5:30 pm at the Iowa City Public Library.
What: One Iowa’s “Life After DOMA: Taxes and the Law”
When: Friday, October 25, at 5:30 pm
Where: Iowa City Public Library, Room A, 123 S Linn Street, Iowa City
Who: Tax expert Jason Dinesen and One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing
For more information, visit http://bit.ly/18SPT42
(CEDAR FALLS)–Tonight, University of Northern Iowa student Steven Sanchez made history as Iowa’s first transgender homecoming queen. Steven was crowned homecoming queen sometime after 8 pm this evening, marking the first ever transgender homecoming queen for UNI. Coincidentally, today we also recognize National Coming Out Day, a day that celebrates the power of coming out as transgender, lesbian, gay or bisexual.
The following is a statement from One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing:
“One Iowa applauds the crowning of Steven Sanchez as the University of Northern Iowa’s first ever transgender homecoming queen. We commend Steven for being brave enough to be out and proud, and for taking this step forward in Iowa history. Steven helps give a voice and helps put a face to the transgender community in Iowa, making a difference as a person who changes hearts and minds.