How We YPC: Talking LGBT Rights
On Tuesday, Greater Des Moines (DSM) residents from all walks life shared their stories with a group of about 25 YPC members and guests. Although their backgrounds differed, they all shared a common passion: improving life and strengthening rights for lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LGBT) individuals in the state.
The YPC Diversity & Culture and Civic committees co-hosted the LGBT panel on June 5 at Latin King. Attendees enjoyed appetizers and drinks with a little networking before the panel began. The panel members came from a variety of background and groups in Des Moines: John and Tom, who have been married for 14 years; Sen. Matt McCoy, a champion for LGBT rights in the Iowa legislature; Molly Tafoya, communications director from One Iowa; Ryan Roerman, program advisor at Safe School Certification Program; Connie Ryan Terrell, Interfaith Alliance; and Justin De Vries, president of Capital City Pride.
It was interesting to hear how they all became part of the LGBT movement in different ways. Molly has been involved with LGBT rights and the fight for marriage in three different states. Ryan heard Matthew Shepherd’s mother speak at an event and discovered his passion for helping LGBT youths.
Although they all acknowledged that Iowa has made huge strides in the past decade in the area of LGBT rights, they warned that the fight was far from over. From bullying in schools to same-sex marriage, there is still the very real possibility that rights could be taken from LGBT individuals at any time. They also made valid arguments for same-sex marriage and anti-bullying measures in schools that are relevant to any Iowan: With the same-sex marriage ruling, couples spent close to $12 million on weddings in 2009, adding up to nearly $1 million in tax revenue. And Certified Safe Schools can be an economic driver and attract parents to certain cities or school districts.
No matter your feelings on the matter of gay marriage or whether you are a Democrat or Republican, it was inspiring to hear these people talk with such passion about the cause they are fighting for. Full disclosure, I volunteer with One Iowa, but even if I didn’t, I would have been motivated to find a cause I was as passionate about as they were. I think I speak for many of the attendees when I say it made me want to get out in the community and make a difference.