Fundamentalist Churches Overrun Human Rights Commission in Sioux City
This is happening throughout the country - fundamentalist churches are shoehorning their members into majorties on schoolboards and local commissions everywhere — is it happening under your nose as well?
Disagreements over the role of the Human Rights Commission have a long history in Sioux City.
Last year, the City Council added the protected class of “sexual orientation and gender identity” only after the Iowa Legislature added those classes to the law.
In 1998 and 2004, city lawmakers decided not to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation. Both times, the Human Rights Commission brought the issue to the council.
The debate each time was controversial — both from those testifying and among the council members. Much of the debate in 2004 centered on the notion that adding sexual orientation to city code was part of the so-called “gay agenda,” promoting gay marriage.
Before the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on the legality of same-sex marriage in April 2009, One Iowa, a gay and lesbian advocacy group, staged marriage equity forums around the state. The organization asked local human rights commissions to co-sponsor the meetings. One Iowa reserved a room at the Wilbur Aalfs Library in late 2008.
The Sioux City Human Rights Commission eventually voted 7-3 not to participate in that forum because many of the Christian commissioners do not approve of gay marriage, Flansburg said. Many of those members blamed Mackey for even asking them about the co-sponsorship proposal.
“Karen did not bring it up,” Flansburg said. “She just presented the proposal from One Iowa.”
Also in 2008, another controversy erupted over the selection of the recipient of the annual War Eagle Human Rights Award.
A Human Rights Commission subcommittee recommended the award be presented to Marge Stanek, a longtime leader in the local pro-life effort. The commission majority, with Mackey’s support, concluded the rights of fetuses fell outside the purview of the commission.
On Feb. 3, 2009, the City Council adopted a resolution by a 3-2 vote supporting the legal description of marriage as between one man and one woman.
Figueroa addressed the council about his concerns over homosexuality and the impact same-sex marriages would have on small business owners. He owns A-1 Preferred, a duct cleaning company.
“That means that five or 10 years down the road I might be forced to insure many multiple partners. … Like it or not, the homosexual community is (a) very high health risk,” Figueroa said. “… Do we want to see this great nation come to rubbish and cease to exist for the sake of a few? What’s next in 30 years? Polygamy wide open? A man wanting to marry a 10-year-old girl? Two men wanting to marry three men? Or two or three women for that fact?”