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Iowa Senate votes to extend civil rights protections to gays and lesbians

[JURIST] The Iowa Senate [official website] on Tuesday passed SF427 [text], extending the state's civil rights protections to gay and lesbians. The controversial legislation would officially add gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of groups protected from discrimination in Iowa. The bill now moves to the Iowa House of Representatives, where if passed, it would complement legislation passed earlier this year to protect gay and lesbian students from harassment in schools [SF61 text]. While Democrats supported the measure, Republican Senators expressed concerns about the scope of the protections offered. They worried how it may affect the state's prohibition on gay marriage and any school bans on cross-dressing.

Like many states, Iowa is struggling to refine its gay rights [JURIST news archive] laws. Over the past few months, Washington Senate has passed [JURIST report] a civil unions law, while Rhode Island and New Jersey have moved to recognize gay couple married in other states [JURIST reports]. Conversely, Indiana has joined a number of states in banning gay marriage and Hawaii has shelved its proposed civil unions legislation [JURIST reports]. AP has more.

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