As a faith leader in Indianola and a college educator in Des Moines, I’ve witnessed how much the experiences and opportunities LGBTQ people in Iowa encounter can depend on the specific community in which they live.

Julia Rendon

Julia Rendon, pastor of the Crossroads United Church of Christ in Indianola.

While my young adult students in the college community have moved beyond controversies about their peers’ sexual orientation or gender identity, in smaller towns LGBTQ people encounter what is, at its best, a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” attitude toward a central truth about their lives. The public schools in our small towns are a difficult place for young people who are “different” — causing many of them to move elsewhere when they become adults.

Our society can be better than that — but leadership plays the crucial role in helping us move beyond the divisions plaguing our nation today. For too many decades, Congress has neglected its responsibility to protect the LGBTQ community — but now with both parties offering proposals to add nondiscrimination protections to the law, 2021 could be different. I am hopeful that Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst will step up to help find common ground ensuring fairness and equality for all Americans. Leadership is needed to hammer  out the details of this critical legislation.

AN IOWAN TO MY ROOTS

I’m a native Iowan — raised  in Ames — and I became a United Church of Christ minister in 1985. For the past 21 years, I’ve served as pastor of Crossroads United Church of Christ. Crossroads’ formation decades ago was motivated in part by the aim of creating an open and affirming congregation welcoming LGBTQ members into our faith community. In recent years, we’ve remained outgoing in that commitment, regularly participating, for example, in Des Moines’ annual Pride celebrations.

I came of age in an era when homophobia and the exclusion of LGBTQ people from nearly every corner of our lives went largely unquestioned. But my faith led me to realize that God simply makes all different people. Knowing that God is gracious, if I am going to make mistakes in my life and faith work I want those mistakes to be made out of compassion.

In our civic life, if we all enjoy the benefits of our society’s social compact, then we all have an obligation to extend the same rights and dignity to others who are also contributing to society. From my perspective as a faith leader and a citizen, it’s as simple as that.

DISCRIMINATION, IS BOTH A LOCAL AND A NATION PROBLEM THAT WE CAN HELP REPAIR

Unfortunately, I know all too well that discrimination against the LGBTQ community remains a national problem. One in three LGBTQ Americans nationwide, according to a 2020 survey, experienced discrimination — in public spaces, on the job, in schools, and in their own neighborhoods — in just the previous year.

That number rises to 60 percent among transgender people, who experience exceptionally high levels of unemployment and homelessness. They are also stalked by violence, with a record 44 hate-motivated murders nationwide last year. Recent news reports here in  Iowa include a transgender woman’s story of mistreatment at a hotel and then by local police and the discrimination a trans state prison employee faced.

 Black and Latino LGBTQ folks face greater poverty rates than communities of color generally. Less than half the states protect the community’s youth from bullying in school. Elders often find they must re-closet themselves, with nearly half of same-sex couples reporting discrimination in seeking senior housing.

OUR IOWA SENATORS HOLD THE KEY

But there is now hope that Congress will finally act. For the first time, both Democrats and Republicans have put forward measures that add LGBTQ protections to our nation’s civil rights laws. The major disagreement between the two parties involves balancing the urgent need to protect LGBTQ people with the religious freedoms Americans cherish.

Finding a path to getting that job done is what legislators do when committed to solving problems, and Senators Grassley and Ernst can look to the 21 states with laws like Iowa’s prohibiting anti-LGBTQ discrimination without compromising religious freedoms.

Washington can follow suit, with senators reaching across the aisle to end the divisive pattern that pits religious liberties against the rights of LGBTQ Americans. Every major civil rights advance, from the 1964 Civil Rights Act to the Americans With Disabilities Act, has found the appropriate balance.

Senators Grassley and Ernst: More than 100,000 LGBTQ Iowans and their families and friends are counting on you.

Recommended for you

(2) comments

Bohlken1

Please explain how this legislation will protect women's and girl's safety and privacy in bathrooms, locker rooms and even women's prisons from biological men claiming to be transsexual women? The recent rapes by a "transgendered" biological male on two girls in school bathrooms in Virginia, as well as rapes by biological male "transsexual women' in women's prisons, show the dangers inherent in this law. Will this law protect churches and church schools from being required to admit biological males into women's restrooms as was attempted under the Iowa Civil Rights Act? Will this law prevent women and girl students from being required to compete athletically against biological males which is inherently unfair and which robs biological women of scholarships?

TruthSeeker

HR 5 - Equity Act is an attack!

HR 5 Equity Act is an attack on our religious freedoms, traditional family values, and freedom of thought.

Corinthians 11:14

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Libido Dominandi- the term is taken from Book I of St. Augustine’s City of God – is the definitive history of that sexual revolution, from 1773 to the present. This a term that alerts us to powerful enemies of the Church who have harnessed the Enlightenment idea of sexual liberation to the manipulative power of the modern media in order to gain political force. It is a monumental and compelling account of the program to dismantle the Judeo-Christian culture. Excerpts from reviews of Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control by E. Michael Jones, Ph.D.

This bill has nothing to do with civil rights. This bill is an attack on our Churches that tells the truth of moral guidance and moral authority. This bill goes against our humanity and natural law. It creates unjust positive laws made by man to control and over power our God given human rights. This bill will have long term damages our society. It damages the traditional family structure and extinguishes the Church's moral authority.

For the sake of Humanity, do not support the HR 5 Equity Act.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.