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Over the last few years, for some reason, Iowa House Republicans have passed a bill called the “Gay/Trans Panic Defense” bill. This year it is House File 159. And this year it passed 94-1 in the Iowa House without much fanfare.

The claim by LGBTQ advocates is that the bill will eliminate a perceived loophole in Iowa law that allows people to use a gay or trans panic defense.

In the case of House File 159, the bill states that defenses of justification and diminished capacity cannot be used when a person who is the subject of a “nonviolent sexual advance” commits a violent crime or an assault upon another person as result of that sexual advance or solely as a result of the person’s discovery of, knowledge about or potential disclosure of the victim’s sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

This bill has passed the House twice before, so I ignored it this year when it passed. Only Rep. Mark Cisneros voted against the bill. Ninety-four members voted for it. Five were absent or not voting.

Let’s get the obvious part out of the way — nobody is suggesting an individual should be assaulted or killed because of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

That’s the part we shouldn’t have to say outloud, but because we dare oppose the LGBTQ agenda on — well, anything — they will label us as bigots and homophobes.

Let’s examine a few details of this proposal.

First, what other states have such laws? Great question. Glad you asked!

New Mexico
New York
Rhode Island
New Jersey
Washington D.C. 

If you are keeping score at home, the bolded states are states Joe Biden won. The non-bolded states (of which there are non) are states President Donald J. Trump won.

So Iowa would be the first “red” state to pass such a law. Keep in mind Iowa is one of just two red states that already has civil rights protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. That policy has created numerous issues for Iowans.

Second, you may be asking, who supports this bill? Another good question. Also, glad you asked!

Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Iowa Mental Health Planning Council
Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund
Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance
GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Task Force (Iowa Safe Schools)
Iowa State Bar Association
One Iowa
Planned Parenthood

Many of those groups claim Republican lawmakers in Iowa are bullying the LGBTQ community. Some who support this bill claim Republican lawmakers who voted in support of banning sex-change treatments on kids or a bathroom bill or a bill to remove obscene materials from school libraries or a bill to prohibit instruction on gender identity and sexual activity to students in grades K-6 would rather members of the LGBTQ just be dead or commit suicide.

They fought against ESAs. They fought against, well, a lot of really meaningful pieces of legislation.

So why are Republicans giving them a win? On anything?

If Democrats were in power and there was a bill supported only by conservative-interest groups — let’s say Iowa Catholic Conference, The FAMiLY Leader, Iowa Baptists for Biblical Values, Protect My Innocence, etc. — do you think Democrats would pass that bill?

Third, it would be interesting to know the last time a gay/trans panic defense was used successfully in the state of Iowa and how often it is used successfully in the state of Iowa.

The trans panic defense is applied in cases of assault, manslaughter or murder of a trans person with whom the alleged assailant engaged in sexual relations unaware that the trans person was transgender until seeing them naked or further into or post-sexual activity.

So, hypotehtical situation…

A college student is out at the bar. The college student is a male. He meets what he believes to be a female. They have drinks. They return to his apartment. They begin to make out and the male realizes through their sense of “touch” that the female is actually a male. Startled, the male jumps up and in the course of jumping up causes the transgender individual to fall, hit their head, etc. or suffer some other injury.

How does this proposed bill affect that scenario? Is it a matter of one person’s word against another’s? What if the fall or bump to the head causes real serious injury or even death?

What happens in that scenario? I have asked a couple of members of the Iowa House this question and was told they’d get back to me in years past. Nobody ever did.

There is an incredible increase in the number of young people identifying as “transgender,” so the scenario will not be as unlikely as it seems in a few short years.

The defense, which supporters of the bill acknowledge is rarely successful, is used when “unwanted advancements” are made toward straight people by the LGBTQ community, according to the Human Rights Committee in the state of Iowa.

Democrat State Rep. Sami Scheetz said during floor debate on the bill he was “shocked” to learn the “loophole” existed in Iowa law and is “very, very thankful” to Republican Rep. Bobby Kaufmann for trying to get the bill passed.

Oh by the way, just yesterday Scheetz referred to Moms 4 Liberty as a “hate group” because they support the bathroom bill.

The questions remain.

*Why should Iowa become the first “red state” to pass such a law?
*How often is this defense used in Iowa?
*How often is it successful in Iowa?
*Is this a solution in search of a problem?
*Why should Iowa Republicans give a win to the people accusing them of wanting members of the LGBTQ community to kill themselves (literally NOBODY I know in the GOP wants that)?
*Would Democrats provide a “win” on a bill if the only groups who supported it were conservative-interest groups?
*What happens in a rare scenario where someone is “surprised” at the gender identity of their “partner” and they react in a way that does cause physical harm to the transgender person in that split second where they realized they had been deceived?

Republican Sen. Mike Bousselot is floor managing the bill, which advanced through subcommittee on Thursday. Republican Sen. Brad Zaun is chair of Judiciary Committee, and it will be up to him whether the bill survives the second funnel deadline. 

If you have questions or concerns with the legislation, you should contact the senators at:

[email protected]; [email protected]

Feel free to ask them:

*Why should Iowa become the first “red state” to pass such a law?
*How often is this defense used in Iowa?
*How often is it successfully used in Iowa?
*Why are Republicans giving a “win” to people who claim they want LGBTQ members to die?
*What happens in a rare scenario where someone is “surprised” at the gender identity of their “partner” and they react in a way that does cause physical harm to the transgender person in that split second where they realized they had been deceived?


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