Court Battles

Iowa Supreme Court overturns $1.5M gay bias verdict against ex-governor

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The Iowa Supreme Court has voted to overturn a $1.5 million gay bias verdict against former Gov. Terry Branstad (R), The Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s ruling found “no evidence” that Branstad tried to push out then-Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey from state government in 2011, saying that previous evidence doesn’t support that the former governor was “anti-gay,” as he employed others who are openly gay. 

Branstad testified that he wanted to throw Godfrey out because business executives complained about rulings providing benefits to injured workers, according to the AP. 

A spokesperson for current Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) called the decision is “a complete and total victory for the rule of law and Iowa taxpayers.” 

Godfrey, who now works with the U.S. Department of Labor, told the newswire service that the overturned ruling was “an absolutely bizarre decision” that undermines protections for the LGBT community. 

“It’s just a shame that Iowa can’t value people in the same way,” Godfrey told the AP. “Because nobody that goes into public service should have to be treated the way that I was treated.”

A 2019 decision had found that Branstad, who served as a U.S. ambassador to China in the Trump administration, and his legal counsel violated the Iowa Civil Rights Act by discriminating against Godfrey. 

A jury found that Branstand’s team violated Godfrey’s rights based on his party affiliation, and he was awarded $1.5 million in damages for emotional distress, according to the AP. 

The Hill has reached out to Reynold’s office and Godfrey for comment.

Tags anti-LGBT discrimination Iowa Terry Branstad

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