Anti-Gay Backlash Felt in Des Moines

Governor Tom Vilsack has felt the heat from conservative forces since a Washington DC-based gay publication praised his month-old executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Although the order received little attention at the time of its signing, it has been at the center of controversy in Des Moines since the DC paper called the order “a significant accomplishment.” Since then, opponents to the equal-rights measure have launched a personal campaign against Vilsack, accusing him of “damaging the institution of marriage,” and “violating the public’s trust.”

Playing to some voters’ sexist and homophobic fears, one state Senator went so far as to say, “For white, heterosexual, Christian males, the circle of special rights has finally closed entirely around you. You are now the only unprotected class.” Vilsack as well as feminist and human rights advocates have defended the policy of non-discrimination.


Iowa City Gazette - October 19, 1999

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