Saturday, June 16, 2007

Iowa City Pride Celebrates 30 Years, Legislative Achievements

Iowa City Pride Celebrates 30 Years, Legislative Achievements

Partying on the steps of the Old Capitol to Haddaway's "What Is Love" (Saturday Night Live fans: that's the Roxbury Guys song)

Iowa City celebrated its 30th annual Pride Fest with an upbeat parade and rally that focused on national, state and local progress made in the wake of 2006 elections that put Democrats in the majority in Congress and the Iowa Legislature.

Dave Loebsack attended last year's Pride Fest as a long-shot candidate.  Saturday he returned as Iowa City's incumbent congressman.  Loebsack said one of the House's big accomplishments was passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, telling the story of a meeting with House Democrats just before the vote that included a speech by the mother of the murdered Matthew Shephard.  "There were a lot of hard-bitten politicians there and I tell you, there wasn't a dry eye in the room."

Loebsack, an Armed Services committee member, also said he supports a repeal of the military's don't ask, don't tell policy.  "It's long past time, folks, for those who are openly gay or lesbian who want to serve our country to be allowed to do the things everyone else has a right to."

State Rep. Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City), is seen above in the parade that preceded the rally, with Johnson County Democrats chair Brian Flaherty at the wheel.  She told the crowd that when she was county party chair, her proposal to bring the local party to Pride Fest was controversial.  But that was 22 years ago and "we haven't missed one since."  She praised the Clinton, Dodd, Edwards and Obama campaigns for their presence and said "each and every one of the Democratic candidates for president is committed to lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender rights."  (Update: Teams Biden and Richardson, while not at the parade and rally, completed a six-pack of candidates by joining the aforementioned four at the post-rally festival at City Park.)

Mascher cited dramatic progress in the 2007 Iowa legislative session due to the new Democratic majority.  Citing civil right legislation that included sexual orientation, and the bullying bill, Mascher said "We've tried to promote those as Democrats for years, and we were stymied until this year.  It sends a very clear message that Iowa is a welcoming state.  That diversity is clear -- we want you and we need you."

Hillary slug bug, no slug bug back.  Not to be outdone...

Iowa City Council challenger Mike Wright gets points for 1) working VW into his slogan and 2) getting a hold of a classic era Beetle (courtesy of his campaign manager Duncan Stewart).

Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness waves, carrying the Democratic party banner.  As an assistant county attorney, Lyness drafted the county human rights ordinance that was approved in December 2006, just days before she took office.  Also seen: James Moody of the North Liberty city council (green shirt).

Iowa City Council member Regenia Bailey read the city's Pride Month proclamation.  Coralville also offered a first-ever proclamation, presented by Council member Tom Gill.  James Moody joined in on North Liberty's behalf.  Other politician sightings: State Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) and Coralville Council candidate Mitch Gross.

A young Bailey backer's hair matches the campaign's color.

Update, courtesy of Donald Baxter: here's your reporter on the scene.

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