Senate File 274 passed through the Iowa Senate on Monday afternoon. The bill, dealing with campus free speech, passed 35-11.
Democrat Sen. Zach Wahls filed an amendment to Republican Sen. Amy Sinclair’s amendment, but it failed.
Wahls was hoping to remove some of the language from the bill, but his amendment failed 30-16. He is concerned a reality will be established on college campuses across the state where organizations will deny the ability to serve to people based on their identity.
“Those students are being denied because of who they are,” Wahls said. “That’s what discrimination is.”
Democrat Sen. Herman Quirmbach spoke in support of Sinclair’s amendment, which did pass. Quirmbach said he thought that the amendment proposed by Wahls would make the bill perfect, but was still satisfied with Sinclair’s amendment.
Quirmbach said universities are in a tough spot where they have to allow free expression of a wide variety of beliefs. He said the bill, in his opinion, would provide strong protections with appropriate limitations and maintain an ability for universities to follow the Iowa civil rights code.
Sinclair pointed to examples across the country where colleges have controlled ideas from being heard.
“What this bill does not do is deny any student membership to a student organization they wish to join,” Sinclair said. “We want to allow students the ability to participate in whatever groups they wish to without the threat of discrimination.”
Sinclair said the state should not have a desire to tell Christian groups, Muslim groups or LGBTQ groups they cannot be led by people who do not affirm the beliefs on which the respective groups are founded.
Democrat Senators Joe Bolkcom, Nate Boulton, Claire Celsi, Bill Dotzler, Rob Hogg, Pam Jochum, Liz Mathis, Janet Petersen, Amanda Ragan, Todd Taylor and Zach Wahls voted against it.
Democrat Senators Tony Bisignano, Kevin Kinney, Jim Lykam, Quirmbach and Rich Taylor voted in support.
Democrat Senator Jackie Smith and Republican Senators Jeff Edler and Zach Nunn were excused.