The LGBT community has known about Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal for some time, ever since his video, “You’ve Already Lost” went viral back in 2009. At that time, Gronstal refused to allow a vote on a constitutional amendment to take away marriage equality, and has continued to do so since then, bringing down upon him the wrath of the religious right to his electoral peril.

What is less well known is that Gronstal has also become a working class hero. He is pretty much singlehandedly preventing a bill, House File 525, from passing the Iowa Legislature that would strip Iowan civil servants of their rights. The struggle in Iowa is not as well known as that in Wisconsin or Ohio, but it is just as real. The only reason it is not as dangerous is because of Mike Gronstal.

What does this bill propose to do, and what is Gronstal doing about it?

Crossposted from Daily Kos, which includes two YouTube videos which it isn’t allowing me to embed herein!According to the Iowa Independent:

The bill, House File 525, would prohibit public employee unions from negotiating health care or retirement plans. It would also allow employees to become “free agents,” who can negotiate their terms of employment directly with employers even if they are in a union shop.

Gronstal is having none of it. According to the Muscatine Journal:

he also has promised to block Republicans’ efforts to overhaul Iowa’s collective bargaining law

And the Globe Gazette:

Just as the Democrats’ efforts to stop the bill in the House appeared to be futile, the Republicans hopes to get it heard in the Senate seemed to be futile as well. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said as much Wednesday night when he visited the House floor.

About the whole effort to strip worker’s of their rights Gronstal says:

“This is a manufactured crisis to create a slush fund to cut taxes for the wealthy and out-of-state corporations.”

Needless to say, the right is now sharpening its talons with its eyes focused on Gronstal’s Senate seat, betting on his vulnerability because of his stand for equality:

On December 16th, executive committee members of the Pottawattamie County Republican Central Committee met to discuss the upcoming Iowa caucuses and the 2012 election cycle. Topping their list of priorities — defeating Democratic State Senator Mike Gronstal’s 2012 reelection bid…

… the consensus among committee members was in this election cycle Senator Gronstal can be beaten.

According to Central Committee Chairman Jeff Jorgensen, “Senator Gronstal’s lack of respect for Iowa voters in addressing the gay marriage issue has damaged him politically and left him vulnerable to a successful Republican challenge in 2012… I am very confident that we can stamp a November 2012 expiration date on Mike Gronstal’s tenure as state senator from the 50th district.”

Regardless of the threat, Gronstal is not about to change his positions:

Gronstal said he has no intention of shifting his position.

“Have I thought about putting discrimination into the constitution?” Gronstal said. “Never in a positive way.”

He conceded his position involved political risk but said he was willing to take that chance.
“I think you’ve got to stand for something in politics,” he said. “I worry about that, but I also have to shave every morning and I have to be able to be able to look myself in the eye.”

According to Project Vote Smart, Gronstal entered politics in 1984. He became Iowa Senate Democratic Leader in 1997, and Senate Majority Leader in 2006. That’s a long time to remain willing to stand up for your principles in the game they call politics.

A person like that deserves a thank you note, and a little support if you can spare it. Gronstal is up for re-election in 2012, in Senate District 50. He won his last two elections by 54% and 58%, but that was before he had infuriated the entire country’s religious right and anti-labor organizations. I don’t know what resources it will take to fend off the attacks that are sure to be forthcoming, but I’m sure every bit will help; presumably it doesn’t take millions of dollars to run an Iowa Senate campaign. On the other hand, a chicken to trade for television time probably won’t cut it.

The workers of Iowa need Senator Gronstal. The LGBT Community needs Senator Gronstal. And the nation could use more politicians like Senator Gronstal who refuse to yield on principles in the face of attacks from the right. (Paging Harry Reid, Paging Barack Obama…)

Donations page. Gronstal’s campaign site. Wikipedia page
email him a note

Note: I am not affiliated in any way with Mike Gronstal or his campaign, or, for that matter, Iowa.

jpmassar

jpmassar