State Watch

Iowa GOP lawmaker calls flying of trans flag above Capitol an act of the ‘Rainbow Jihad’

Iowa state Rep. Skyler Wheeler (R) spoke out against the transgender flag flying over the state Capitol for Transgender Day of Remembrance, calling it an act of “political aggression” from “the Rainbow Jihad.”

Wheeler said he was not notified that the transgender flag would fly over the Capitol building in Des Moines last week, according to an interview with conservative outlet The Iowa Standard published on Saturday.

“It’s 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,” Wheeler said.

The lawmaker, who represents Iowa’s conservative 4th House District in Sioux County, said that “flags that fuel division among Iowans” should not be flown.

“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,” he continued. “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’s comments were echoed by state Rep. Dean Fisher (R), who told the outlet that he plans to file legislation next session to limit which flags could be flown at the Capitol.

“I’d sure like to know the history of who else has been able to fly their flag over the Capitol, but I think it’s kind of disappointing that we’re doing it,” Fisher said. “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.”

LGBTQ advocacy group Iowa Safe Schools petitioned the Iowa Department of Administrative Services last month for the right to fly the flag, the group’s executive director Nate Monson told Iowa Starting Line.

Nate Monson, the executive director of Iowa Safe Schools, said that the flag was flown for the standard 3-5 minutes.

The gesture was to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance, first observed in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor Rita Hester, who was killed in 1998. The day is the culmination of Transgender Awareness Week.

“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 told Iowa Starting Line. “While today we’re honoring folks, we’re also moving forward on acceptance and equality.”

Monson told the outlet that it was “disappointing” to hear Fisher and Wheeler attempting “to bully the LGBTQ community with name-calling.”

Twenty-two transgender Americans have been killed this year, according to Monson.

Kedarie Johnson, a gender-fluid 16-year-old, was murdered in Iowa in 2016 over their gender identity in a high-profile case that captured the attention of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  

“This is not a political argument. This is about common decency,” Monson said. “If the belief that all Iowans should be treated with respect and deserve a safe place to live and work is so alarming, Representatives Fisher and Wheeler should look into other forms of employment.”

Tags Des Moines Iowa Jeff Sessions LGBTQ Transgender Day of Remembrance

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