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J. Mijin Cha on May 24, 2007 - 6:54am
This session, the Iowa legislature broke a long standing stalemate and added sexual orientation to its civil rights laws. SF 427 makes it illegal to discriminate in employment, public accomodation, credit, housing and education based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. In passing the bill, the Iowa legislature simply extended the protections they offer to everyone else to gay and transgender citizens. As House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy said, "This was not some sort of liberal social agenda. This is just saying that under housing and employment, people shouldn't be discriminated against because of their real or perceived sexual orientation."
Oregon and Colorado also enacted bills barring anti-gay discrimination this session. Oregon Governor Kulongoski signed Oregon's law, having first introduced a equal rights bill as a legislator himself back in 1975 and waiting over thirty years to finally see the bill enacted into law.
With the addition of Iowa, Oregon and Colorado, 18 states now ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Iowa's new law also protects against discrimination based on gender identity, an important protection for transgender individuals, and a protection currently offered by only 11 states. Vermont just approved changes to its anti-discrimination law, which has banned anti-gay discrimination since 1991, to also ban gender identity discrimination.