Iowa made history last week when it became the first state to fly a transgender flag on the state capitol, in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20.
But the show of support has drawn the ire of conservative lawmakers, with one denouncing the “rainbow jihad” for “pushing their beliefs on us.”
State Rep. Skyler Wheeler (R-Orange City) told the Iowa Standard that he wasn’t informed the flag was being raised, calling it, “another way that the rainbow jihad continues to give those of us who don’t agree with them a finger in the eye and push their beliefs on us.”
Flags flown at our state capitol should not be flags that fuel division among Iowans,” he continued. “How would the Rainbow Jihad react if we were trying to fly the Christian flag over the state capitol? The Rainbow Jihad is not OK with simply living their lives. They are so hellbent on pushing their beliefs on us that they would go so far as to fly that flag over the state capitol. It’s one of the most egregious acts of political aggression I’ve ever seen.”
Wheeler wasn’t alone in his complaints. State Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Montour) intends to put forward legislation that would prevent the trans flag — and others — from being flown on the capitol.
“I’m preparing a bill to specify that, as far as the official flag poles, it would only be the United States and Iowa flags, and we’ll see where that goes,” he said.
Calling the flying of the transgender flag “ridiculous”, Fisher asked, “Why are we doing that? Why is it anything but the United States flag or the Iowa flag?”
Echoing Wheeler, he added: “I guess the question is, can I fly the Christian flag over it? Do I think that’s right? Well, not necessarily. Yeah, I’m solidly a Christian, but should I be flying my flag over somebody else’s instead of the Iowa flag or the United States flag?””
What both lawmakers failed to note was that the flag flew for no more than five minutes, according to political blog Iowa Starting Line.
Iowa Safe Schools, an organization dedicated to providing safe learning environments and communities for LGBTQ youth, petitioned the state’s Department of Administrative Services for permission to fly the flag and followed the correct procedure to do so — hardly an “egregious” act of “political aggression,” as Wheeler described it.
Nate Monson, executive director of Iowa Safe Schools, told Starting Line that he was “damn proud” Iowa was the first state to fly the transgender pride fly by itself (California also flew the flag on its capitol that day, but after Iowa).
“Doing something like having a flag flying over the Capitol is a message and a beacon to youth that we serve across the state that they are accepted, they are loved,” Monson said. “While today we’re honoring folks, we’re also moving forward on acceptance and equality.”