Protesters called Rod Blum-sponsored First Amendment Defense Act discriminatory. Pictured: Diane Peterson (photo by Matthew Steele)
Supporters of Monica Vernon — Democratic candidate for for Iowa’s First Congressional District campaigning to unseat incumbent Congressman Rod Blum — gathered with Vernon in front of Blum’s Cedar Rapids office today and voiced opposition to the congressman’s First Amendment Defense Act.
The bill would roll back equality legislation and allow businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ patrons.
Congressman Blum has publicly claimed the bill is only intended to prevent churches from losing their non-profit status if they refuse to marry same sex couples. However, a recent Gazette “Fact Checker” report scored those claims an “F”, with political science professor Steffen Schmidt (Iowa State University) and Tim Hagle (University of Iowa) stating that the current language of the bill would allow “people in any occupation” to refuse services to same-sex couples.
“It’s against families.” protester Diane Peterson said, distilling her opposition to the bill. She added that the bill, which would allow for discrimination against anyone having a sexual relationship outside of wedlock, would disproportionately affect women and single mothers.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) introduced the bill in June of 2015, and has since gained 171 cosponsors. Congressman Blum added his support in July 2015. Read the full bill here.
The First Congressional District seat will be decided in the Nov. 6, 2016 election. Republican Blum has held the seat since 2014. Vernon defeated Pat Murphy for the Democratic nomination in a primary held June 7 of this year. Vernon previously served as two-term member of the Cedar Rapids City Council, where she was Mayor Pro Tempore. Though she was registered as a Republican at that time, she changed her party affiliation in 2009 and was Democrat Rob Hatch’s running mate in an unsuccessful 2014 gubernatorial bid against Iowa’s Republican Governor Terry Branstad.