Hundreds rally for LGBTQ Day on the Hill, protesting bills ‘meant to scare us back into the closet’

Around 200 demonstrators filled the Capitol Rotunda to protest anti-trans bills making their way through the Iowa Legislature, and meet with their representatives. The rally was hosted by One Iowa, a nonprofit founded in 2005 to advance LGBTQ rights, and One Iowa Action, for LGBTQ Day on the Hill last Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Courtney Reyes, One Iowa’s executive director, said there have already been eight anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in 2023, and 62 similar bills introduced over the last four years.

“There’s a lot of reasons to talk to your legislators. They want us to be quiet. They want us to be silent. I truly believe the anti-LGBTQ legislation is meant to scare us back into the closet,” Reyes said.

Democratic Sen. Liz Bennett thanked everyone for attending the rally and showing support for the LGBTQ community.

“When you show up like this, you power us to keep going,” said Bennett, the first openly LGBTQ woman elected to the Iowa Legislature. “So, thank you for being here today. Thank you for showing up for the LGBTQ community. Thank you for showing up for trans kiddos. We are here! We are here! And we are wonderful!”

Other state legislators — Rep. Sami Scheetz, Rep. Jennifer Konfrst, Rep. Megan Srinivas, Rep. Elinor Levin, Sen. Janice Weiner and Iowa State Democratic Leader Sen. Zach Wahls — attended the rally, condemning gender discrimination, the “attack on trans kids” and healthcare inequality. The speakers agreed to continue pushing for a livable climate in Iowa with support for all residents.

One Iowa’s LGBTQ Day on the Hill event started with training on how to speak with legislators, including the best processes and practices when broaching important issues and how to have confidence when speaking up. Afterwards, rally attendees shared their personal stories.