With five rallies or education sessions happening across the state in the next three weeks, LGBTQ+ Iowans and their allies are matching a groundbreaking number of Republican-sponsored anti-LGBTQ+ bills with a new level of advocacy.
Rallies or education sessions are happening this Sunday in Des Moines; March 9 online; March 11 in Davenport and Cedar Rapids; and March 20 in Iowa City. Iowa’s 29 anti-LGBTQ bills are among 340 state-level anti-LGBTQ measures proposed nationwide, 150 of which target transgender people, reports the Human Rights Campaign.
Proposals to ban drag before minors, marriage equality unlikely to advance
The anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed by Republican legislators this year include proposals to ban gender-affirming care for minors, ban the mention of sexual and gender identity in schools, and keep students from using bathrooms that match their chosen gender identity if it’s different than their “assigned at birth” identity.
About half of the 29 anti-LGBTQ+ bills will go away after Friday, which is the deadline for bills to receive a committee’s approval in order to advance for further consideration. The bills that will likely die Friday include a proposal by Quad Cities area legislators for a constitutional amendment that would end sanctioned marriages between people of the same sex. That bill, which would require several steps over several years, was never scheduled to be heard by a subcommittee, let alone a committee.
Another proposal to ban drag in front of minors is also likely to die Friday. A subcommittee hearing on the proposal by Janesville Republican Rep. Sandy Salmon was cancelled Tuesday and has not been rescheduled, meaning it will not go before subcommittee and a committee by Friday’s deadline.
State Sen. Liz Bennett, one of Iowa’s few openly LGBTQ legislators, warned opponents of the bills to stay vigilant in case they re-emerge later in Iowa’s legislative process through an amendment on another bill.
Events happening March 5, 9, 11, 20
All of the upcoming events involve sign-making, marching, speaking out, or learning more about Iowa’s legislative process. Des Moines is the site of the first gathering, happening this Sunday.
Sunday: Rally to Resist
One Iowa will hold the “Rally to Resist” at 2 p.m. Sunday on the west steps of the Capitol building in Des Moines. “The assaults on the LGBTQ community have been non-stop this legislative session,” the group wrote. “Iowans are saying NO to all the anti-LGBTQ bills — bathrooms, pronouns, medical care denials, bans on books and curriculum, civil rights rollbacks, denying adoption and foster care …. and more.”
Coordinators of the Sunday rally include not only One Iowa Action, One Iowa’s lobbying arm, but also Iowa Safe Schools; the Interfaith Alliance fo Iowa; the Iowa State Education Association; Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa; Progress Iowa; the Des Moines Education Association; and Central Iowa Rainbow Families. If you’d like to help prepare signs, arrive at 1 p.m. The event will also be live-streamed on One Iowa’s Facebook page.
Families of transgender people in particular are the focus of a March 9 online event held by One Iowa, along with Iowa Safe Schools and Central Iowa Rainbow Families. The “Urgent Meeting for Iowa Trans* Families” starts at 6 p.m. and will help the families most impacted by bills that would limit gender-affirming health care for minors.
Those bills, unlike the marriage equality and drag ban, have been approved by committees and are advancing through the legislative process. “Experts will share which laws have passed, which ones are likely to pass, and how families can begin to prepare and plan,” organizers wrote. This event requires registration at this link.
March 11: Proud to Stand for Equality
In Davenport, part of the Quad Cities along the Iowa/Illinois border, “PROUD to Stand for Equality” happens Saturday, March 11, at Vander Veer Park. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., community members are encouraged to join nonprofit organization leaders and Mary Francis, founder of Mary Quite Contrary’s House of Burlesque, for sign-making, a march, speakers and performers. “Let’s express our love and support for our LGBTQ+ community and show them we will NOT GO BACK,” Francis wrote.
March 11: We Won’t Go Back
In Cedar Rapids, people affiliated with the Basix LGBTQ nightclub are planning a day of activities to merge activism with celebrating the bar’s one-year re-opening. “We Won’t Go Back” starts with a 9 a.m. “sit-in” at Green Square Park in downtown Cedar Rapids and includes a drag show at Basix at 4 p.m. Watch the event page for additional happenings.
March 20: LGBTQ Legislative Update
One Iowa heads to Iowa City March 20 to provide an update on the anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed this year. The free gathering is from 4 to 6 p.m. at The Green House, 505 E. Washington St., and will inventory which bills have advanced and provide guidance on how others can get involved.
If you’re planning an event anywhere in Iowa to stand up against the anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the Iowa Legislature, send your information to firstname.lastname@example.org.