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Friday, June 11, 2010

Pro-Gay Rights Muslim Wins Primary in Iowa

Pro-Gay Rights Muslim Wins Primary

Posted in: Features
Jason Hamza Van Boom

Pro-Gay Rights  Muslim Wins Primary
Tom Vilsack speaks with Iowa State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad at the 2009 Hall of Fame Ceremony.

Religion has always been part of the same-sex marriage debate, but it was part of this campaign in a unique way.

Ako Abdul-Samad, a Muslim incumbent in the Iowa state legislature (and one of nine Muslim state legislators in the entire United States) easily defeated his challenger Clair Rudison Jr, a Christian minister, in Iowa's Democratic primary on June 8. In the battle to represent House District 66 in Des Moines, Abdul-Samad got 74% of the vote to Rudison's 25%.

The newspaper Iowa Independent called this primary battle "ground zero for gay marriage debate." In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the state cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Rudison attacked Abdul-Samad for not supporting a state referendum that would overturn the court's decision.

Consequently, major Iowa organizations on opposite sides of the marriage debate took sides. Iowa Family Political Action Committee, an arm of the socially conservative Iowa Family Policy Center, gave Rudison his largest single donation. In response, Iowa's largest LGBT-rights organization One Iowa, supported Abdul-Samad through its Fairness Fund PAC.

"This race is important and marriage equality is at the center of it," said Ashlan Shaw, an intern at Fairness Fund. "This election is crucial for keeping a pro-equality, community advocate in House District 66 and preventing discrimination from being written into the constitution."

Religion has always been part of the same-sex marriage debate, but it was part of this campaign in a unique way. Abdul-Samad is Iowa's only Muslim to hold an elected state office. He is the CEO/Founder of Creative Visions Human Development Center, has published a book of spiritual poetry, and helped produce an Islamic DVD with Lisa Killinger called "Men are from Marwa, Women are from Safa." Rudison is an ordained Christian minister who served as pastor of a Baptist church in Fort Dodge, Iowa, before moving to Des Moines to serve with Iowa Missionary and Educational Baptist State Convention.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

20+ LGBT Rights Groups & Allies Join Outcry Against Anti-Immigrant Measure in Arizona

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups and allies join outcry against anti-immigrant measure in Arizona

(New York, June 7, 2010) — More than 20 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality groups and allies today issued the following joint statement:

Arizona's S.B. 1070 takes the state down a path that will lead to racial profiling, discrimination and anti-immigrant extremism. We stand in solidarity with other individuals, organizations and local governments in rejecting the misrepresentation of immigrants put forth in this unjust and ill-conceived measure.

S.B. 1070 essentially declares an entire class of people to be inherently criminal on the basis of their race and appearance. The consequences of S.B. 1070 are grave and troubling: the inevitability of racial profiling and infringement of civil liberties; the strong probability of violence and harassment against individuals and their families; and the reversal of progress toward creating a more inclusive society.

We also note that this bill was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer, the same governor who last year stripped away earned health insurance benefits from the same-sex domestic partners of state employees. Brewer's actions as governor demonstrate, at best, callous indifference—and at worst, willful malice—toward immigrants and LGBT people alike.

All Arizona families—lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight—have reason to be alarmed. The state's new law threatens to tear apart families, separate children from their parents and rip apart loving couples who are building their lives together. The LGBT community knows all too well how easily people who "look different" or "act different" can be singled out for harassment and persecution. LGBT immigrants will be doubly vulnerable under this law, which gives license to discriminate.

We are united in our determination to stand for political and legislative change that will ensure just treatment of immigrants, people of color, and all people in Arizona. Such justice requires the repeal of S.B. 1070 and the passage and implementation of comprehensive federal immigration reform.

Today we join with groups such as Service Employees International Union, League of United Latin American Citizens, Asian American Justice Center, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, National Council of La Raza, National Action Network, the National Puerto Rican Coalition, and many others in the boycott against the state of Arizona until S.B. 1070 is repealed, overturned by the courts, or superseded by comprehensive federal immigration reform.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
Human Rights Campaign
Immigration Equality
National Black Justice Coalition
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
International Foundation for Gender Education
Family Equality Council
Two Spirit Press Room
Equality Federation
National Minority AIDS Council
National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce®
Freedom to Marry
Gay Men's Health Crisis
Lambda Legal
International Federation of Black Prides, Inc.
Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
Atticus Circle
National Center for Lesbian Rights


Contact: Jonathan Adams 212-809-8585 ext 267;

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