DES MOINES, Iowa – An eight member jury decided that former Governor Terry Branstad did discriminate against former Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey because he is gay. They awarded Godfrey $1.5 million that taxpayers on the hook for.
Branstad had Godfrey’s pay slashed by 35 percent after Godfrey refused to resign after the governor requested it in 2011. Godfrey was confirmed to a six-year term as Commissioner by the Iowa Senate. He claims that Branstad’s actions were because he is gay. Branstad said he wanted a pro-business commissioner and had received complaints from members of the business community about Godfrey who was appointed by former Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack and then reappointed by former Democratic Governor Chet Culver.
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ spokesperson, Pat Garrett, told The Des Moines Register that they are disappointed by the verdict and they will consult with their attorneys to determine what should be done next.
I hope this is appealed, and I’m disgusted that the Iowa Supreme Court did not put a stop to this trial based on the evidence that was allowed.
A recap of the “evidence” allowed by District Court Judge Brad McCall:
- Branstad’s public policy positions on gay marriage, the Varnum v. Brien Supreme Court decision that allowed same-sex marriage in Iowa, and the constitutional amendment process.
- Evidence of Branstad’s and staff’s affiliation with the Republican Party of Iowa deemed “anti-gay.”
- The private religious beliefs of staff members who worked for the Iowa Association of Business and Industry who advised Branstad on Godfrey.
- Opinion testimony from Democratic lawmakers, who had nothing to do with Branstad’s decision, about the “anti-gay” Republican Party of Iowa.
So, in a nutshell, a jury decided that if you are a Republican or a Christian who believes same-sex marriage is wrong, then you must be guilty of discrimination!
Because, obviously, Republicans and Christians can’t follow the law even though employing someone in a state position is not a reasonable matter of conscience.
Because where is the evidence that shows he took action on Godfrey because of his sexual orientation instead of complaints from the business community over steps he took as Commissioner? There is none. It is all circumstantial.
This is insane. The precedent for this opens the door for any LGBT employee to sue their employer, especially if they are a Christian or a Republican, even if they are fired for cause.