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Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Council and Rep. Beth Wessell-Kroeschell

posted on May 25, 2007

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Borg: CIVIL RIGHTS, POLITICAL COSTS... A CONTROVERSIAL CIVIL RIGHTS BILL IS NOW IOWA LAW. COMMENTS FROM THE IOWA FAMILY POLICY COUNCIL'S CHUCK HURLEY AND STATE REPRESENTATIVE BETH WESSEL-KROESCHELL ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, MAY 25 EDITION OF IOWA PRESS. HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: GOVERNOR CHET CULVER SIGNING CIVIL RIGHTS LEGISLATION THIS WEEK IS CULMINATING A LONG CAMPAIGN TO INCLUDE SEXUAL ORIENTATION AMONG THE PROTECTED CATEGORIES IN STATE LAW. AS SUPPORTERS ARE APPLAUDING, OTHERS ARE PREDICTING SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES AND POLITICAL COSTS. THAT'S INDICATING THAT GAY RIGHTS IS REMAINING A BIG ISSUE IN FUTURE POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS. WE'RE GETTING INSIGHT TODAY FROM FORMER STATE LEGISLATOR CHUCK HURLEY -- HE'S NOW PRESIDENT OF THE IOWA FAMILY POLICY COUNCIL -- AND FROM STATE REPRESENTATIVE BETH WESSEL-KROESCHELL, THE LEGISLATION'S FLOOR MANAGER DURING HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DEBATE. WELCOME TO 'IOWA PRESS.'

Wessel-Kroeschell: THANK YOU.

Hurley: THANKS, DEAN.

Borg: AND ACROSS THE TABLE, TWO GENTLEMEN I THINK THAT BOTH OF YOU KNOW VERY WELL: 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE WESSEL-KROESCHELL, LET'S START WITH YOU. THE BILL WAS SIGNED JUST THIS WEEK. TELL US WHY IOWA NEEDS TO EXPAND ITS CIVIL RIGHTS LAW TO INCLUDE SEXUAL ORIENTATION. MAKE THE CASE.

Wessel-Kroeschell: GREAT. IT'S ABOUT ENDING DISCRIMINATION. IT'S ABOUT BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS AND INCLUDING EVERYBODY IN THOSE BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS. IT CERTAINLY ISN'T ABOUT SPECIAL RIGHTS. IT'S ABOUT HOUSING. IT'S ABOUT ACCESS TO EDUCATION WITHOUT FEAR OF DISCRIMINATION, AND IT'S ABOUT BEING EMPLOYED BASED ON ABILITIES AND NOT BASED ON YOUR SEXUAL ORIENTATION. I REALLY, TRULY BELIEVE THAT GOVERNMENT HAS A RIGHT TO PROTECT ALL OF OUR CITIZENS, AND THIS BILL IS DOING THAT.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE HURLEY, IF I COULD TURN THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU, MAKE THE CASE WHY WE SHOULDN'T BE GOING DOWN THIS PATH.

Hurley: WELL, WE BELIEVE THIS IS LEGISLATIVE AND CULTURAL MALPRACTICE. IF YOU LOOK AT THE BILL, IT DOES NOT END DISCRIMINATION. IT ADDS A COUPLE OF CATEGORIES OF PEOPLE -- FUNDERS OF CAMPAIGNS WHO HAVE POLITICAL MUSCLE. IT DOES NOT END DISCRIMINATION FOR ALL PEOPLE. IT DOES NOT INCLUDE EVEN A TENTH OF THE CATEGORIES THAT SEXUAL ORIENTATION ITSELF INCLUDES IN APA GUIDELINES. FOR EXAMPLE, THERE'S A WHOLE NUMBER OF OTHER ORIENTATIONS BESIDES HOMOSEXUALITY AND BISEXUALITY THAT ARE LISTED BY THE MEDICAL PROFESSION AS BEING SEXUAL ORIENTATION. SO WHAT YOU HAVE IS A VERY NARROW ADDITION BY PEOPLE LIKE RICH EICHNER AND OTHERS WHO HAVE MONEY WHO HAVE COME TO THE LEGISLATURE AND SAID, 'WE'LL HELP FUND YOUR CAMPAIGNS IF YOU'LL GIVE US SOME SPECIAL FAVORS HERE.'

Glover: AND WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?

Hurley: WELL, IF YOU WANT TO END DISCRIMINATION, YOU WOULD SAY THAT ALL CATEGORIES ARE INCLUDED, NOT JUST A COUPLE OF SPECIAL CATEGORIES. AND JUST FROM A -- AS A FORMER LEGISLATOR, I CONSIDER IT MALPRACTICE TO WRITE BAD LAWS. IF YOU REALLY WANT TO END DISCRIMINATION, YOU DO IT RIGHT. YOU DON'T DO IT PIECEMEAL.

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE, HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Wessel-Kroeschell: WELL, WE HAVE A GROUP OF PEOPLE, GAYS AND LESBIANS, PEOPLE OF TRANSGENDER ORIENTATION, WHO HAVE BEEN HISTORICALLY AND PERVASIVELY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST, AND THAT'S WHO WE INCLUDE IN CIVIL RIGHTS CODES, MUCH AS WE HAVE INCLUDED WOMEN IN CIVIL RIGHTS CODES AND RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS CODE. SO IT'S -- WE'RE NOT NOT TRAIL BLAZING, BY ANY MEANS. THERE ARE 18 OTHER STATES THAT HAVE DONE THIS. MANY, MANY CITIES AND COUNTIES HAVE DONE THIS, AND IT GIVES US AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE ABLE TO SEE PEOPLE IN THE WORK FORCE WHO ARE VERY CAPABLE INDIVIDUALS.

Glover: AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT? I MEAN WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE THAT WE HAVE THIS LAW ON THE BOOKS?

Wessel-Kroeschell: IT IS VERY IMPORTANT. THIS IS AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ISSUE. WE KNOW THAT PLACES THAT ARE OPEN TO DIVERSE POPULATION ARE PLACES THAT GROW. AND IF IOWA HAS A PROBLEM, IT'S THAT IOWA IS NOT GROWING. SO THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT JUST NOT ONLY IN HUMAN RIGHTS BUT IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

Yepsen: MR. HURLEY, HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Hurley: CLASSICALLY THE CIVIL RIGHTS CODE HAS BEEN DESIGNED TO DEAL WITH IMMUTABLE CHARACTERISTICS: RACE, GENDER, SO FORTH. AND WHAT WE'VE GOT HERE IS A VERY AMORPHOUS CLASSIFICATION. WHAT IS GENDER IDENTITY? IS IT HOW I FEEL A CERTAIN DAY? HOW IS AN EMPLOYER SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT? YOU FELLAS KNOW THAT THE ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY AND THE NATIONAL FEDERATION FOR INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES OPPOSE THIS BILL. THEY CANNOT HAVE CLARITY IN HOW THEY'RE GOING TO HANDLE HIRING, FIRING, PROMOTIONS, DEMOTIONS UNDER THIS BILL. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING LIKE RACE. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT GOES TO A BEHAVIOR THAT (A) IS VERY DIFFICULT TO TRACK AND (B) IS --

Glover: HOW IS IT VERY DIFFICULT TO TRACK?

Hurley: ARE YOU REALLY WANTING TO INQUIRE INTO PEOPLE'S PRIVATE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR AS AN EMPLOYER? I DON'T THINK SO.

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE, IS THIS GOING TO LEAD TO GAY MARRIAGE IN IOWA?

Wessel-Kroeschell: THIS ACTUALLY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GAY MARRIAGE. IT'S ABOUT EDUCATION, HOUSING, EMPLOYMENT, CREDIT, AND PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS. THERE WAS AN AMENDMENT THAT WE ADDED. IT WAS PROPOSED BY OUR MINORITY LEADER RANTS, WHICH SAYS THIS DOES NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE DON'T ALLOW THE DEFENSIVE MARRIAGE LAW.

Yepsen: MR. HURLEY, ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT IT DOES LEAD TO GAY MARRIAGE?

Hurley: ABSOLUTELY. TWO PROBLEMS WITH THIS IS THAT, ONE, A COUPLE WEEKS AGO IN POLK COUNTY DISTRICT COURT, THE LEAD LAWYER FOR LAMBDA LEGAL, WHO IS THE LEADING HOMOSEXUAL LEGAL ACTIVIST GROUP IN THE WORLD, MADE THE ARGUMENT TO AN IOWA JUDGE THAT THIS LAW WOULD GIVE HIM REASON TO OVERTURN OUR MARRIAGE LAW. HE MADE THAT IN HIS OPENING AND CLOSING ARGUMENTS. THE SECOND IS THAT THE HOMOSEXUAL LEGAL ACTIVISTS FOR TWENTY YEARS HAVE SAID THIS IS AN IMPORTANT AND VITAL AND PREPARATORY STEP TO OVERTURNING OUR MARRIAGE LAWS.

Yepsen: WHY WOULD HE MAKE THAT ARGUMENT WHEN, AS REPRESENTATIVE KROESCHELL HAS POINTED OUT, THE NEW LAW SPECIFICALLY SAYS THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO GAY MARRIAGE? I MEAN THE CONCERN THAT MINORITY LEADER RANTS HAD WAS THAT SOME COURT NOT INTERPRET THE MARRIAGE STATUTES THROUGH THIS PRISM. IN OTHER WORDS, THE LEGISLATURE IS SPEAKING AND SAYING THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO GAY MARRIAGE?

Hurley: THE REASON IS, DAVE, JUDGES ARE BEING ASKED NOW TO MAKE A CONSTITUTIONAL RULING TO OVERTURN WHAT THE LEGISLATURE IS DOING. THE JUDGE DOESN'T HAVE TO LISTEN TO THAT AMENDMENT. WHAT THE LAWYER'S ARGUMENT WAS IS THAT THIS IS PROOF THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS NOW NORMALIZED AND WE SHOULD NOT HAVE DISCRIMINATION IN OUR MARRIAGE LAWS.

Glover: ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS WE DEAL WITH WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THIS ISSUE IS THIS, REPRESENTATIVE

HURLEY: WHY SHOULD WE CARE AS A SOCIETY WHAT PEOPLE DO IN THEIR BEDROOMS; WHEN THEY CLOSE THE BEDROOM DOOR, WHY DO I CARE WHAT GOES ON BEHIND IT?

Hurley: EXACTLY. THAT'S THE ARGUMENT TO NOT BE PUTTING SEXUAL ORIENTATION INTO A CODE THAT WILL PUNISH EMPLOYERS, LANDLORDS. WE SHOULD NOT BE INQUIRING INTO THAT. WE SHOULD --

Glover: AS IT STANDS RIGHT NOW, WE ARE PUNISHING PEOPLE FOR WHAT THEY DO BEHIND THEIR BEDROOM DOORS BECAUSE WE ALLOW PEOPLE TO DISCRIMINATE BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION IN HOUSING, EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT, AND SO FORTH.

Hurley: THAT'S SIMPLY NOT THE RECORD. THE RECORD OF THIS LEGISLATION IS THESE ARE -- THESE ARE ACTIVISTS WHO WANT LEGISLATIVE IMPRIMATUR. IT'S NOT AGGRIEVED CITIZENS WHO HAVE BEEN DISCRIMINATED AGAINST. THIS IS A POLITICAL FORCE THAT'S BROUGHT THIS LAW TO BEAR. IT'S NOT A REACTION TO WRONGDOING.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE WESSEL-KROESCHELL, SAME QUESTION TO YOU. WHY ARE WE -- WHY IS THERE SUCH AN UPROAR ABOUT GETTING INTO WHAT GOES ON BEHIND SOMEONE'S BEDROOM DOOR?

Wessel-Kroeschell: I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU. A RECENT STUDY SHOWS, THOUGH, THAT TWO OUT OF FIVE GAY AND LESBIAN ADULTS FEEL THAT THEY HAVE BEEN DISCRIMINATED AGAINST, THAT THEY DO FEEL HOSTILITY IN THE WORK FORCE, THAT ONE IN TEN GAY AND LESBIAN MEMBERS OF SOCIETY FEEL THEY HAVE LOST A JOB BECAUSE THEY ARE GAY. IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT AN EMPLOYER HAS TO TRACK. THE EMPLOYER IS NOT ALLOWED TO FIRE THEM BASED ON THEIR SEXUALITY.

Yepsen: LET'S -- AS ROSS PEROT ALWAYS USED TO SAY, LET'S GET IN UNDER THE HOOD AND TAKE A LOOK AT HOW SOME OF THE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF THIS LAW MAY OR MAY NOT WORK. HOUSING, HOW DOES IT WORK? I MEAN IS THERE A COMPLAINT? WHO DOES IT APPLY TO? IS ANYONE EXEMPT? JUST TALK ABOUT HOUSING FOR A MINUTE.

Wessel-Kroeschell: CERTAINLY. THERE ARE HOUSING EXEMPTIONS IF THE OWNER OF A SMALL COMPLEX, FOR EXAMPLE, A DUPLEX OR A FOURPLEX, IF IT'S OWNER-OCCUPIED THAT OWNER IS EXEMPT. THERE ARE RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS. THERE ARE SMALL BUSINESS EXEMPTIONS ALSO IN THIS BILL. SO THERE ARE SEVERAL EXEMPTIONS. HOW DOES IT WORK? IT WORKS THROUGH THE IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION, SO IT'S AN ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESS. IT DOESN'T REQUIRE GOING TO COURT. IT IS MUCH LESS COSTLY. IT'S MUCH LESS COSTLY TO SOCIETY TO DO IT THIS WAY. THE IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION HAS ASKED FOR NO MORE MONEY. THEY'RE NOT EXPECTING A HUGE AMOUNT OF INCREASES IN THIS --

Yepsen: MR. HURLEY, DO YOU AGREE WITH THE FACTS THERE OF HOW IT WOULD WORK?

Hurley: SURE.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT EMPLOYMENT? HOW WOULD IT WORK IN EMPLOYMENT, REPRESENTATIVE?

Wessel-Kroeschell: THERE WILL BE VERY FEW CHANGES EXCEPT FOR THAT AN EMPLOYER WILL NO LONGER BE ALLOWED TO FIRE OR NOT PROMOTE AN INDIVIDUAL BECAUSE THAT INDIVIDUAL IS GAY OR LESBIAN.

Glover: ANY EMPLOYER?

Wessel-Kroeschell: WELL, AGAIN, THERE ARE SOME EXCEPTIONS FOR BUSINESSES, SMALL, FEWER THAN FOUR EMPLOYEES, I BELIEVE.

Glover: MR. HURLEY, DO YOU ANTICIPATE ADDITIONAL STATE SPENDING FOR ENFORCEMENT OF THIS LAW OF A SIGNIFICANT LEVEL?

Hurley: NO, I TALKED TO RALPH ROSENBURG, THE HEAD OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION. I SERVED WITH HIM IN THE LEGISLATURE. THIS HAS NOT BEEN -- THERE'S NOT BEEN A FLOOD TIDE BEFORE. HE DOESN'T EXPECT A FLOOD TIDE AFTER THIS.

Borg: ARE THERE ADDITIONAL EXPENSES, HOWEVER, IN BENEFITS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT FOR STATE EMPLOYEES? HOW DOES IT APPLY TO GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES?

Wessel-Kroeschell: THERE ARE NO ADDITIONAL BENEFITS. MANY EMPLOYERS ALREADY OFFER PARTNER BENEFITS. BUT IT'S NO DIFFERENT THAN IF YOU'RE MARRIED AND YOU GET MARRIAGE BENEFITS. BUT IT'S NOT A REQUIREMENT OF THE LAW. IT'S WHAT EMPLOYERS ARE DOING TO ATTRACT EMPLOYEES.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE WESSEL-KROESCHELL, IF WE COULD TAKE THE SAME QUESTION I TOOK TO REPRESENTATIVE HURLEY, THERE DOESN'T SEEM TO BE A FLOOD OF CASES. WE DON'T ANTICIPATE A HUGE INCREASE IN THE AMOUNT OF STATE ATTENTION TO THIS. WHY ARE WE SO WORRIED ABOUT THIS ISSUE? WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL, I GUESS IS MY QUESTION.

Wessel-Kroeschell: WELL, WE BELIEVE THAT IOWANS OBEY THE LAW. AND WHEN YOU HAVE A LAW IN FRONT OF YOU, WE BELIEVE THAT IOWANS WILL OBEY IT AND BE RESPECTFUL OF INDIVIDUALS OF DIFFERENT SEXUAL ORIENTATION.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE HURLEY, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU. IF THERE AREN'T GOING TO BE A FLOOD OF NEW CASES, IF THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE SUDDENLY A CUTTING EDGE ISSUE, WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL?

Hurley: LET'S GET UNDER THE HOOD CULTURALLY. I THINK THAT'S WHERE THE ANGST IS ON THIS ISSUE. EVERY MAJOR WORLD RELIGION HAS SAID THAT HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR IS SINFUL. AND SO WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU PUT THIS IN THE LAW IS YOU MAKE EVERY PERSON WHO ADHERES TO ANY OF THOSE MAJOR RELIGIONS A BIGOT OR A LAW BREAKER, AND THAT'S REPUGNANT TO BUSINESS OWNERS WHO SIMPLY WANT TO RUN A BUSINESS AND THEY DON'T WANT TO BE TOLD THAT THEIR WORLD VIEW, THAT THEIR MORALS ARE SUDDENLY NOW ILLEGAL.

Glover: WE'RE NOT GOING TO START A RELIGIOUS ARGUMENT OUT HERE ABOUT WHO CONDONES AND WHO CONDEMNS HOMOSEXUALITY.

Hurley: RIGHT.

Glover: WE'LL LET THAT GO.

Hurley: BUT THAT'S THE KEY RUB HERE.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE WESSEL-KROESCHELL, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU.

Wessel-Kroeschell: ONE MORE TIME, THE QUESTION.

Glover: THE BIG DEAL QUESTION.

Wessel-Kroeschell: WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? IT'S A BIG DEAL BECAUSE WE'RE EXTENDING RIGHTS TO INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE FELT THAT THEY -- AND HAVE BEEN HISTORICALLY AND PERVASIVELY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST. YOU KNOW, WE CAN TALK ABOUT RELIGION. WE CAN TALK ABOUT LOTS OF DIFFERENT THINGS. MY JOB IS TO REPRESENT THE DIVERSE GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS IN THAT.

Glover: YOU REPRESENT A COLLEGE SOCIETY. HOW WILL THIS WORK IN EDUCATION? HOW WILL THIS WORK TO END DISCRIMINATION IN EDUCATION?

Wessel-Kroeschell: WELL, IT WILL BE NOW THE LAW THAT YOU CANNOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST AN INDIVIDUAL BECAUSE OF THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION, SO YOU CAN'T SAY, 'I DON'T WANT THAT INDIVIDUAL TO COME TO MY SCHOOL BECAUSE THAT PERSON IS GAY OR LESBIAN.'

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE, IF -- DOES THIS APPLY TO CHURCHES OR OTHER RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS?

Wessel-Kroeschell: ABSOLUTELY NOT. THERE'S A RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION FOR ANY RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS, CHURCHES. IF THEY HAVE A BONA FIDE RELIGIOUS REASON FOR HIRING AN INDIVIDUAL, THEY ARE CERTAINLY EXEMPT FROM THIS LAW.

Yepsen: MR. HURLEY, DOESN'T THIS -- ALL THESE EXEMPTIONS MAKE IT A LITTLE MORE ACCEPTABLE AS A STATUTE? I MEAN THERE ARE EXEMPTIONS. YOU DON'T HAVE TO -- IF YOU OWN A DUPLEX, YOU DON'T HAVE TO ALLOW A GAY PERSON TO MOVE IN TO RENT THE OTHER HALF TO SOMEBODY. IF YOU'RE A CHURCH, YOU DON'T HAVE TO HIRE GAYS AND LESBIANS. DOESN'T THAT MAKE THIS LEGISLATION MORE PALATABLE?

Hurley: WELL, CLEARLY AS YOU TRANSITION FROM A SOCIETY THAT SEES CERTAIN BEHAVIOR AS WRONG TO A SOCIETY THAT SEES THAT BEHAVIOR AS RIGHT, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE EXEMPTIONS TO MAKE THAT TRANSITION EASIER. BUT THE REALITY IS, DAVE, WE STILL HAVE A GREAT NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THIS SOCIETY THAT DON'T AGREE WITH THIS BEHAVIOR. AND LET'S TALK ABOUT THE CHURCH EXEMPTION BECAUSE THIS IS VERY CRITICAL. ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS IS A LOBBYIST FOR CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS, AND HE TRIED TO GET AN AMENDMENT, WHICH WAS REJECTED, TO SAY THAT ANY PERSONNEL IN THAT CHRISTIAN SCHOOL SETTING COULD BE EXEMPT FROM THIS. AND THAT WAS REFUSED. AND SO THE REAL SHORT EXAMPLE IS THE PEOPLE IN THE OFFICE, THE SUPPORT STAFF, THEY ARE UNDER THIS LAW IN A CHURCH, IN A CHRISTIAN SCHOOL. SO IT DOES AFFECT RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS.

Yepsen: DOESN'T THIS, MR. HURLEY, PIVOT -- YOU RAISED THIS QUESTION ABOUT THE CULTURAL ISSUES. DOESN'T THIS WHOLE ARGUMENT PIVOT ON THE QUESTION OF WHETHER GAYS AND LESBIANS ARE BORN THAT WAY OR WHETHER THIS IS A BEHAVIOR THAT THEY CHOOSE TO PRACTICE?

Hurley: YES, YES, IMMUTABILITY. AND THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE NOW STATE WITH EVIDENCE TO BACK IT UP THAT THEY ARE FORMER HOMOSEXUALS. THEY ARE NOW HETEROSEXUAL. IN FACT, THE APA, WHO FIRST IN '73 --

Borg: THE APA IS WHAT?

Hurley: AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION. -- HAS UNDER POLITICAL PRESSURE CHANGED THEIR RULES FROM HOMOSEXUALITY BEING A DISORDER. AND NOW THE LEADER OF THAT MOVEMENT IN '73 HAS COME OUT AND SAID, 'I WAS WRONG.'

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE, HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Wessel-Kroeschell: WELL, THE APA STILL SAYS THAT THIS IS NOT A DISORDER, THAT THIS IS HOW PEOPLE ARE BORN, THIS IS, YOU KNOW, A PART OF LIFE. IT'S A DIFFERENT PART OF LIFE. IT'S A SMALLER SEGMENT OF SOCIETY, BUT WE CAN'T CHANGE THESE PEOPLE. THIS IS HOW THEY ARE. AND IF YOU KNOW THESE PEOPLE AND YOU TALK TO THESE PEOPLE, YOU REALIZE, YOU KNOW, THIS ISN'T A CHOICE. AND WHO WOULD MAKE A CHOICE OF A GROUP -- TO BE A PART OF A GROUP THAT HAS BEEN SO PERVASIVELY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST?

Borg: I'D LIKE TO ASK DOES THIS LEGISLATION DO EVERYTHING THAT YOU WOULD HAVE WANTED, OR DID YOU HAVE TO MAKE SOME CONCESSIONS THAT YOU WILL BE BACK TRYING TO CHANGE AND ADD INTO THIS LAW?

Wessel-Kroeschell: WE DID HAVE TO MAKE A CONCESSION, AND IT WAS A TWO-PART AMENDMENT. ONE OF THEM -- THE ONE PART WE ALREADY TALKED ABOUT. THE DEFENSIVE MARRIAGE ACT WAS KIND OF INCLUDED TO SAY THAT IT DOESN'T OVERRIDE -- OR THIS BILL DOES NOT OVERRIDE THAT -- THAT PART OF THE CODE. AND THE OTHER PART CHANGED THE DEFINITION PART A LITTLE BIT OF GENDER IDENTITY. WILL WE COME BACK AND TRY TO CHANGE THAT? I DON'T THINK IN THE NEAR FUTURE. I THINK IT'S A PRETTY GOOD BILL. WE'RE ALL VERY HAPPY TO HAVE WHAT WE HAVE.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE HURLEY, GOVERNOR CULVER SIGNED THIS BILL IN THE AUDITORIUM AT THE PRINCIPAL FINANCIAL GROUP, ONE OF THE MAJOR BUSINESSES IN DOWNTOWN DES MOINES. AND IN DOWNTOWN DES MOINES, THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY APPEARS TO BE IN FAVOR OF THIS BILL. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT SUPPORT FROM A KEY REPUBLICAN CONSERVATIVE CONSTITUENCY?

Hurley: THERE ARE A FEW LARGE INFLUENTIAL BUSINESSES THAT SUPPORT THIS, AND WE CAN GET INTO THE REASONS FOR THAT. BUT THE GREAT MAJORITY OF BUSINESSES DO NOT SUPPORT THIS. IN FACT, THE BOARD OF ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY OF WHOM PRINCIPAL IS A MEMBER, VOTED AGAINST SUPPORTING -- VOTED TO RESIST THIS BILL. AND SO PRINCIPAL, WE CAN GET INTO THAT SPECIAL CASE, BUT THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE THINKS THIS IS BAD LEGISLATION. AND OVER THE YEARS BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN -- THROUGH VERY SHREWD AND POLITICAL MEANS, HAVE BEEN PRESSURED INTO ADOPTING THESE SORT OF THINGS IN THEIR --

Yepsen: MR. HURLEY, I WANT TO CHALLENGE YOU ON THAT. YOU SAID THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY IS OPPOSED TO IT. THE FACT IS THE IOWA BUSINESS COUNCIL WAS NEUTRAL ON THE BILL, AND THEY SAY IOWA HAS TO DO MORE TO ATTRACT A MORE DIVERSE WORK FORCE. SO HOW CAN YOU SAY THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY OPPOSES IT?

Hurley: BECAUSE NFIB AND ABI STRONGLY OPPOSE THIS. I WAS TALKING TO THEM DAILY IN THE LOBBY, AND NEUTRAL IS NOT FOR, SO YOU'VE GOT THE GREAT WEIGHT OF BUSINESS AGAINST THE BILL.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE WESSEL-KROESCHELL, YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT? WHERE IS THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY ON THIS?

Wessel-Kroeschell: WE HAVE AT LEAST 26 LARGE EMPLOYERS IN THE STATE OF IOWA WHO ALREADY INCLUDE SEXUAL ORIENTATION IN THEIR PERSONNEL POLICIES, WAYS TO PROTECT THESE INDIVIDUALS WITHIN THEIR COMPANIES, AND THEY DO THAT BECAUSE IT'S GOOD FOR BUSINESS. THEY WERE STRONGLY BEHIND THIS. THEY WERE PROBABLY SOME OF THE BIGGEST LOBBYISTS ON THIS ISSUE. THEY WERE INDIVIDUAL BUSINESSES INCLUDING PRINCIPAL, ALLIED, QUEST, BUSINESS PUBLICATIONS. THERE WAS A LARGE GROUP OF BUSINESS PEOPLE WHO WORKED VERY HARD TO GET THIS PASSED THIS YEAR.

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE, I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT ATTRACTING PEOPLE TO IOWA. I HEAR THAT ARGUMENT, WE HAVE TO BECOME A MORE DIVERSE WORK FORCE. EVERY TIME I WOULD WRITE THAT, I WOULD HEAR FROM PEOPLE WHO WOULD SAY, 'WE DON'T WANT OUR STATE TO BE A SAN FRANCISCO. WE DON'T WANT IOWA TO BE A MECCA FOR GAY AND LESBIAN CULTURE.' SO HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Wessel-Kroeschell: I RESPOND TO THAT TO SAY THAT WE NEED THE GROWTH, WE NEED THE EMPLOYMENT. I MEAN THESE EMPLOYERS ARE FOR THIS BILL BECAUSE THEY NEED -- THEY NEED TO FIND THOSE EMPLOYERS, AND WE NEED THAT KIND OF GROWTH.

Yepsen: AND, MR. HURLEY, I WANT TO FLIP THAT QUESTION AROUND.

Hurley: SURE.

Yepsen: THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO SAY WE DO NEED TO ATTRACT WORKERS, GAYS AND LESBIANS, BLACK, LATINO, ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE TO IOWA, AND THAT THIS BILL WILL HELP DO THAT. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Hurley: INTERNAL POLICY COVERS IT. DO IT THAT WAY.

Yepsen: WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

Hurley: THE 26 THAT SHE MENTIONED CAN HAVE THEIR OWN POLICY, AND THEN THEY'RE FINE. THEY CAN ATTRACT THOSE PEOPLE.

Glover: AND, REPRESENTATIVE HURLEY, LET'S TAKE THIS QUESTION TO YOU. SHOULD IOWA BECOME A MECCA FOR GAY PEOPLE, A PLACE WHERE GAY PEOPLE WANT TO MOVE? IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH THAT?

Hurley: YES.

Glover: WHAT?

Hurley: ALL THE HISTORIANS ARE IN AGREEMENT THAT WHEN A CULTURE FINALLY ADOPTS ACCEPTANCE OF THIS BEHAVIOR, IT'S ONE STEP AWAY FROM THE END OF THAT CULTURE. I MEAN I AM SHOCKED THAT WE ARE NOT MORE CONCERNED THAT THIS EXPERIMENT REALLY IS GOING DOWN THE WRONG HISTORIC PATH. TAKING OUT RELIGION, TAKING OUR MORALS, JUST LOOKING AT WHAT HAPPENS TO CULTURES WHEN THEY OPENLY ACCEPT HOMOSEXUALITY.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE WESSEL-KROESCHELL, ARE WE AT THE END OF ROME HERE?

Wessel-Kroeschell: NO. THERE ARE, AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, 18 STATES WHO HAVE ALREADY PASSED LEGISLATION LIKE THIS AND IT -- MANY OF THESE STATES HAVE HAD THIS LEGISLATION FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS. MINNEAPOLIS IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF THAT. IT'S A WONDERFUL, CULTURAL MIDWEST AREA FOR US TO GO TO, AND THEY'VE HAD WONDERFUL POLICIES IN MINNEAPOLIS. GAYS AND LESBIANS NEED TO HAVE MORE PROTECTION THAN WITHIN THEIR OWN JOBS. THEY NEED TO HAVE IT WITHIN THEIR COMMUNITY. THEY NEED TO FEEL CONNECTED AND PROTECTED IN THEIR COMMUNITY. THE SKY IS NOT FALLING. IF YOU LOOK AT ILLINOIS, WISCONSIN, MINNESOTA, ALL THREE OF THEM HAVE SIMILAR LEGISLATION AND ARE WONDERFUL, GROWING PLACES.

Borg: MR. HURLEY?

Hurley: HISTORIANS DON'T LOOK AT JUST TWENTY YEARS. THEY LOOK AT TWO HUNDRED YEARS. AND WE HAVE TO BE SMARTER THAN THINKING EXTREMELY SHORT TERM ON THIS, THAT THIS IS CRITICAL TO OUR CULTURE.

Yepsen: I WANT TO ASK ABOUT A COUPLE RELATED ISSUES HERE. BULLYING. EARLIER IN THE SESSION, THE LEGISLATURE PASSED A LAW CLEARLY STATING THAT THE POLICY OF IOWA SCHOOLS SHOULD NOT BE TO ALLOW BULLYING. MANY PEOPLE IN -- MANY SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES OPPOSED THAT BILL. MR. HURLEY, HOW IS IT WORKING SO FAR? HAS IT BEEN ENOUGH TIME TO EXPERIENCE TO KNOW HOW THIS LEGISLATION IS WORKING?

Hurley: NOT YET BUT I'M GLAD YOU RAISED THAT. BY THE THIRD WEEK OF SESSION, I COUNTED EIGHT BILLS THAT HAD BEEN INTRODUCED TO PROMOTE CROSS-DRESSING. THAT SOUNDS LIKE SAN FRANCISCO, BUT IT WAS A PRIORITY OF THE LEADERSHIP OF THE NEW LEGISLATURE. AND THAT TO ME IS NOT INDICATIVE OF THE MANDATE THAT THE DEMOCRATS GOT IN NOVEMBER OF '06.

Yepsen: HOW DO YOU RESPOND?

Wessel-Kroeschell: THERE'S ACTUALLY NOT A SINGLE CROSS-DRESSING BILL THAT WAS PASSED ANYWAY, NOTHING THAT I SAW COME THROUGH. THERE'S A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CROSS-DRESSING AND ANYTHING THAT WE HAVE PASSED IN THIS LEGISLATION. DRESS CODES ARE ACCEPTABLE. WE KNOW THAT FROM COURT CASE, AND WE KNOW THAT DRESS CODES CAN BE PUT INTO ANY PERSONNEL POLICY AND INTO ANY SCHOOL DISTRICT WHICH WOULD NOT PERMIT CROSS-DRESSING.

Hurley: AT LEAST THREE BILLS PASSED THAT DID PROMOTE CROSS-DRESSING, SO WE'VE GOT A DIFFERENCE IN FACTUAL EVIDENCE HERE. THE BULLYING BILL, THE SEX ED BILL, AND THIS BILL ALL DEAL WITH CROSS-DRESSING.

Yepsen: I WANT TO ASK -- I WANT TO ASK ABOUT -- THE SECOND THING I WANT TO ASK ABOUT IS CIVIL UNIONS. I ASKED YOU EARLIER IF THIS CIVIL RIGHTS BILL WOULD LEAD TO GAY MARRIAGE. YOU DISAGREED ON THAT. WHAT ABOUT CIVIL UNIONS? SOME PEOPLE SAY IT'S DIFFERENT THAN MARRIAGE. MR. HURLEY, WILL THE NEW CIVIL RIGHTS STATUTE THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE TODAY LEAD TO IOWA LEGALIZING CIVIL UNIONS, NOT GAY MARRIAGE BUT CIVIL UNIONS?

Hurley: YEAH, GREAT QUESTION. THE HOMOSEXUAL LEGAL ACTIVISTS WILL TAKE CIVIL UNIONS AS ANOTHER STEP FORWARD FROM THIS BILL AND PREDECESSOR IT TO OVERTURNING OUR MARRIAGE LAW. SO, YES, I MEAN THAT'S A GOOD TRANSITION STEP FROM THEIR STANDPOINT.

Yepsen: AND, REPRESENTATIVE, HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Wessel-Kroeschell: I HAVE BEEN WATCHING THIS BILL BEING PROPOSED YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR. I HAVE COSPONSORED IT FOR THE THREE YEARS THAT I'VE SERVED IN THE LEGISLATURE. IT'S BEEN A TWENTY-, TWENTY-FIVE-YEAR JOURNEY FOR THIS BILL TO BECOME LAW, AND I'M GOING TO TELL YOU THAT THIS YEAR IT WAS A STRUGGLE. IT TOOK US A LONG TIME. IT WAS THREE DAYS BEFORE THE END OF SESSION BEFORE WE HAD 51 VOTES, AND I BELIEVE WE'RE A LONG WAY FROM CIVIL UNIONS.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE HURLEY, LET'S TAKE THIS ISSUE AND PUT IT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL.

Hurley: YES.

Glover: THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IS ALREADY WELL UNDERWAY. CANDIDATES ARE ALREADY COMING HERE. WILL THIS BE AN ISSUE IN THE 2008 FIGHT FOR THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION AND, IF SO, WHO DOES IT BENEFIT AND WHO DOES IT HURT?

Hurley: YES, IT WILL BE AN ISSUE. IT ALREADY IS AN ISSUE IN THE COFFEE SHOPS AND IN THE POLITICAL BACK ROOMS. IT WILL HURT RUDY GIULIANI. IT WILL HELP MIKE HUCKABEE. IT WILL HELP SAM BROWNBACK.

Glover: AND TO MAKE THE RECORD CLEAR, YOU'RE A SAM BROWNBACK SUPPORTER.

Hurley: AS A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL I AM. AS PRESIDENT OF IOWA FAMILY POLICY CENTER, I HAVE TO REMAIN NEUTRAL.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT IN LEGISLATIVE RACES? I MEAN WILL THIS ISSUE -- WILL THIS CIVIL RIGHTS BILL BE USED IN LEGISLATIVE RACES AGAINST LEGISLATORS WHO VOTED FOR IT?

Hurley: I BELIEVE THAT IT WILL, PARTICULARLY IN REPUBLICAN PRIMARIES AND THEN IN MORE RURAL DISTRICTS. WENTHE, FOR EXAMPLE, I THINK IS GOING TO HAVE SOME TROUBLE WITH THIS. I NOTED KEVIN MCCARTHY, MAJORITY LEADER IN THE HOUSE, JUST SENT ME, AS A CONSTITUENT OF HIS, HIS SUMMARY OF THE SESSION. HE DIDN'T MENTION THIS. HE'S NOT GOING TO TOUT THIS IN HIS DISTRICT.

Yepsen: BUT LET ME FOLLOW UP. THERE WERE I THINK EIGHT REPUBLICAN HOUSE MEMBERS WHO VOTED FOR THIS; IS THAT CORRECT?

Hurley: NINE.

Yepsen: NINE. ARE YOU SAYING THAT SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES WILL MOUNT PRIMARY CHALLENGES AGAINST THESE NINE REPUBLICANS?

Hurley: ONLY IN A PERFECT SCENARIO. I MEAN IT'S NOT LIKELY BUT, YES, IF THE RIGHT PRIMARY OPPONENT SURFACES, IT WOULD BECOME --

Yepsen: AND, REPRESENTATIVE, HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THIS? I MEAN IS THIS GOING TO BE SOMETHING THAT COSTS THE DEMOCRATS THEIR MAJORITY BECAUSE YOU LOSE TWO OR THREE SEATS IN THOSE RURAL AREAS IN THE STATE?

Wessel-Kroeschell: I DON'T BELIEVE IT'S GOING TO COST THE MAJORITY. I BELIEVE THIS IS ALMOST -- THIS IS A MODERATE BILL. THIS IS JUST ENDING DISCRIMINATION. IT'S DOING NOTHING MORE THAN ENDING DISCRIMINATION, AND I BELIEVE THAT IOWANS ARE ACCEPTING OF THAT AND WILL NOT SEE IT DIFFERENTLY. HOW IT'S USED IN POLITICAL RACES, I'M SURE WILL BE NASTY AND PROBABLY NOT VERY ACCURATE. BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT IOWANS DO NOT WANT TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST ANY GROUP.

Glover: AND I GUESS THAT'S THE QUESTION I HAVE FOR YOU, REPRESENTATIVE WESSEL-KROESCHELL. HAS -- HAS THE STATE MOVED BEYOND THIS SORT OF NAME CALLING AND LABEL -- LABELING THAT GOES INTO THIS ISSUE?

Wessel-Kroeschell: IN MANY, MANY WAYS, I BELIEVE IT HAS. I BELIEVE YOUNGER GENERATIONS -- I REPRESENT A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF THE YOUNGER POPULATION AT IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY, AND WHEN I GO AND TALK TO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, THIS IS A SLAM DUNK FOR THEM. THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY IT HASN'T BEEN DONE IN THE PAST.

Yepsen: MR. HURLEY, WE'VE GOT ABOUT FIVE SECONDS.

Hurley: YEP.

Yepsen: IS THIS THE KIND OF THING THAT WILL RALLY SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES?

Hurley: YES.

Borg: THANK YOU. THANK YOU FOR THAT SHORT ANSWER. WE ARE OUT OF TIME. THANKS FOR BEING HERE TOO. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE'LL BE TALKING WITH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY. THE FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR NOW SEEKING THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION WILL BE HERE AT OUR USUAL 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT; 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.

 


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