Iowa county adopts nondiscrimination policy
March 18 2004 1:00 AM ET
The Woodbury County, Iowa, board of supervisors has adopted a policy declaring that the county will not discriminate against gay men and lesbians who apply for county jobs or who already work for the county. The board voted 3-1 for the change. Supervisor Bob Batcheller, who cast the dissenting vote, said there are no federal or state laws prohibiting discrimination against people because of sexual orientation and that Woodbury County didn't need one either. "We need fewer laws, not more," he said.
"I'm not in favor of discrimination at any level," supervisor Doug Walish said. "We have to consider people of all walks of life as we create our hiring policy." In a request for audience members to stand to show their support or opposition to the policy change, those in opposition outnumbered those in favor. Approving the policy change would grant gays special rights, not equal rights, opponents said. "Once you're on the list [of protected classes], you do have special rights. A good lawyer will tell you that," Sioux City attorney Dan Dykstra said. "Where do you stop the list? By protecting homosexuals as a special class, you are legitimizing them as a group."
David Ehler, the district director for U.S. representative Steve King, from Iowa's fifth district, read a letter from the congressman urging the board not to pass the policy amendment. The change, King wrote, "would remove one more building block from the structure of marriage and family. It would move America one step closer to homosexual marriage and move Woodbury County one step closer
to San Francisco, where they were performing same-sex marriages on the steps of City Hall."
Family values have nothing to do with the county's policy, supervisor Larry Clausen responded. "We are talking about hiring practices. What that has to do with marriage, I have no idea," Clausen said. "Let's not beat around the bush and bring out all the bogeymen here. Don't make this into something it's not."