One Iowa responds to election results: What the election means for the LGBT community, and more

c_election2014DES MOINES–Iowa voters flocked to the polls yesterday for the midterm elections, where conservatives enjoyed sweeping victories across the board and ultimately won control of the U.S. Senate. In Iowa, Terry Branstad was reelected for another term as Governor and Republican Joni Ernst became the state’s first female U.S. Senator in a largely contentious race against Democrat Bruce Braley. In addition, Democrats managed to keep control of the Iowa Senate with Sen. Mike Gronstal maintaining his role as Senate Majority Leader.

One Iowa, the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization, responded to the election results with the following statement from Executive Director Donna Red Wing:

“Equality should not be a partisan issue. Our representatives at all levels of government have an obligation to represent all their constituents, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. As a community, we will approach our representatives, even those who might oppose us, and we will demand inclusivity. We will demand equality.”

“While we congratulate Gov. Branstad on his win, it’s unfortunate to see the leadership in our great state so out-of-touch with the changing culture around marriage equality. Gov. Branstad has stated that he believes Iowans should have a vote on whether or not the state continues to recognize marriages between loving, committed gay and lesbian couples. As we look ahead to four more years under Gov. Branstad, we hope he will make a commitment to represent all of his constituents, which include LGBT Iowans. Fundamental freedoms such as the freedom to marry should never be stripped away by popular vote. Marriage builds stronger, healthier and happier communities, and we believe that Iowa is a better place when it embraces full equality for all families.”

“We congratulate Joni Ernst on making history as the first female elected to Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat; what a great honor this must be for her. At One Iowa, we look forward to meeting with Ernst during the course of her tenure to discuss the issues that are important to the LGBT community. We know that Ernst has stated publicly that she believes in marriage between a man and a woman, furthermore taking a contradictory stance on the state of marriage equality in the U.S. While Ernst would like to see the issue of marriage left up to the states, she’d also support a federal ban on marriage between gay and lesbian couples if one were proposed. We thoughtfully and respectfully urge Ernst to recognize that the culture around marriage is changing. A majority of Americans support marriage equality, and 35 states now enjoy the freedom to marry–a number that continues to grow week to week, month to month. If Ernst expects to truly represent all Iowans in U.S. Senate, this must include our LGBT brothers and sisters.”

“It’s disappointing to know that Congressman Steve King will continue his disillusioned legacy of hurtful, anti-LGBT rhetoric as the U.S. Representative for Iowa’s 4th District. Time and time again, Rep. King has made misinformed, egregious and outright erroneous comments about the LGBT community while serving in Congress. We hope that in the coming years, Rep. King will make a commitment to listen to what his LGBT constituents have to say regarding the important issue of equality. Rep. King, our community deserves better, and it’s your civic duty as U.S. Congressman to listen, to be thoughtful, but most of all to be inclusive and respectful.”

“We are pleased to see that Iowans have retained a fair-minded majority in the Iowa Senate, where we know our allies will work to protect the freedoms and protections of LGBT individuals in our state. In addition, we commend our friends in the Senate who over the years have fought against discriminatory constitutional amendments that, if passed, would strip away marriage from thousands of couples in Iowa and beyond. We commend Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal as he continues to be a stalwart advocate for equality for the LGBT community.”

“We know that by losing the fair-minded majority in the U.S. Senate, Iowa’s very own Sen. Chuck Grassley might now be elected chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This could have a profound influence on the courts, allowing Sen. Grassley to refuse putting judicial nominees up on the calendar, where it might be possible for him to stonewall nominations that come directly from President Barack Obama. As Iowans, we must advocate for a robust and healthy judiciary that includes judges who are fair, competent, and who have a breadth of experiences. If Sen. Grassley blocks this process, as he has done in the past, it will do nothing to move justice forward in our country. We urge Sen. Grassley to do the right thing in the upcoming term, so that justice may prevail.

“The new reality of the U.S. Senate may also mean that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, may not see the light of day. ENDA would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and it is time for Congress to act and sign this bill into law. It’s appalling that in 29 states, it’s still perfectly legal to fire an employee based on sexual orientation. In 32 states, it’s legal to fire a person because of gender identity or expression. There are even some states, like Wyoming, where it’s legal for a gay or lesbian couple to marry, but they could still be fired from their jobs just for being who they are. In this day and age, we find this unacceptable.”