It is quite evident that the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is out-of-control. We’ve known this even before Alliance Defending Freedom announced the lawsuit they filed on behalf of Ft. Des Moines Church of Christ. They were wrong in their pursuit of Betty and Richard Odgaard who owned the Gortz Haus Gallery in Grimes when the Iowa Civil Rights Commission ruled against them in a civil rights complaint after they refused to hold a same-sex wedding ceremony in their chapel.
They never withheld business from homosexuals with the gallery and cafe, but they did not want their property to be used for an activity that was contrary to what they have been taught in scripture. This was a clear violation of their religious conscience. They later stopped holding weddings, and then closed.
The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is totally off the rails with the publication “Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity: A Public Accommodations Provider’s Guide to Iowa Law.”
In it when answering the question of whether this law applied to churches they wrote:
Sometimes. Iowa law provides that these protections do not apply to religious institutions with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose. Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law’s provisions. (e.g. a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public).
So basically they’re saying anytime the church holds an activity that according to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is not have a “bona fide religious purpose” then a transgendered person who is a biological male must be allowed to use the women’s restroom and vice versa.
The publication also states it is illegal discrimination to “directly or indirectly advertising or publicizing that the patronage of persons of any particular sexual orientation or gender identity is unwelcome, objectionable, not acceptable, or not solicited.”
It’s not hard to picture how a church could be accused of “indirectly advertising or publicizing” that homosexuality and transgenderism is objectionable and not acceptable.
Apparently it would be considered “harassment” if a pastor or teacher in the church used the wrong pronouns. They write “intentional use of names and pronouns inconsistent with a person’s presented gender” is harassment.
Really? This is illegal?
Iowa Code Chapter 216 makes it very clear that there is to be a religious exception to Iowa’s Civil Rights Act. In the case of public accommodation, Iowa Code Chapter 216.7 paragraph 2a reads:
Any bona fide religious institution with respect to any qualifications the institution may impose based on religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose.
There is no question that a church is a bona fide religious institution. The question addressed in the booklet is whether the activity serves “a bona fide religious purpose.”
An unelected board wants to determine that? They think a child care facility run at a church does not serve a “bona fide religious purpose”? They also state that church service that is open to the public would also not qualify. ALL churches services at any church I’ve ever attended have been open to the public.
Almost all activity run by a church could be considered having a “bona fide religious purpose” unless that church wants to hold only worship services that are for membership only.
This obviously runs contrary to what local churches and Christians are to do in carry out the Great Commission.
This pamphlet is an indication of how the Iowa Civil Rights Commission interprets the Iowa Civil Rights Act then their belief and action is clearly unconstitutional.
Sorry, the Iowa Civil Rights Act (and the Commission’s interpretation) does not trump the First Amendment. This interpretation should be clearly seen, by any reasonable person, as a violation of the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. Congress can not “prohibit the free exercise” of religion.
The Iowa Constitution also states in Article I, Section 3, “The General Assembly shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise of (religion).”
As for the use of pronouns the Iowa Constitution makes it abundantly clear in Article 1, Section 7 that “no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech.” It does state that every person is “responsible for the abuse of that right.” One can not reasonably believe that calling a biological male “him” is what the framers of the Iowa Constitution would have considered “abuse” and it certainly wouldn’t be punishable by government sanction.
The Iowa Civil Rights Commission can not engage in tyranny by rule and make interpretation of a law that does the very thing Congress and the Iowa Legislature are forbidden constitutionally to do.
The Iowa Civil Rights Commission needs to be reined in.
I submit the current members of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission: Angela Jackson (Chair), Patricia Lipski, Mathew Hosford, Tom Conley, Douglas Oelschlaeger, Lily Lijun Hou, and Lawrence Cunningham need to be given the opportunity to address this pamphlet since it was written in 2012 before, I believe, all of them were appointed. They should clearly state their interpretation of the law.
Iowa Code Chapter 216.3 says that the governor of the state has the authority to remove any commissioner for cause. If expressing a belief that religious liberty, an inalienable right affirmed by the U.S. and Iowa Constitutions, can be trampled on to serve the purpose of the LGBTQ agenda isn’t cause for removal. I don’t know what is.
Religious liberty is a “civil right” that the Commission is supposed to be protecting as well, but it doesn’t appear to be the preferred right.
While there is a lawsuit pending this can’t be left up to the federal courts to decide. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad must remove any Commissioner who is not willing to respect religious conscience and the religious freedom of Iowa’s religious institutions and individuals. He must direct the Iowa Civil Rights Commission to remove the booklet and rewrite it in a manner that reflects a constitutional interpretation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
The Iowa Legislature must also help to clean house. Religious liberty protections must be reinforced by the passage of a strong Religious Freedom Restoration Act that echoes the freedom protected by the U.S. and Iowa Constitutions.