Iowa Gov. Accused of Discrimination
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstand (R) is being accused by the state's workers' compensation commissioner for alleged defamation, harassment, sexual discrimination and extortion after Branstand cut his pay by nearly $36,000 last year, the Des Moines Register reported in a Jan. 11 article.
Commissioner Chris Godfrey has recently filed a lawsuit against the state for $1 million in compensation. The lawsuit says that Branstand discriminated against Godfrey because he is gay.
A statement from Branstand's office says that he did discriminate against Godfrey and that he asked him to step down from his position because of his job performance.
"Governor Branstad does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, age, religion, gender or sexual orientation, a statement issued by the governor's office said.
"He did not know that Christopher Godfrey was gay until Mr. Godfrey stated so in his claim."
Godfrey also filed another discrimination report with the Civil Rights Commission because he claims that Branstand and his staff did not include him in important meetings -- putting him at a disadvantage in the workplace.
"For those people that are going to be bullied by this governor or by someone else, I can lead by example and say, 'It's OK to stand up to someone, even someone as strong as the governor of the state of Iowa,'" Godfrey said. "I can stand up to that bully, and it's going to be OK."
When Branstand took office he asked for Godfrey's resignation as well as the resignations of most state directors who worked for the previous governor, Chet Culver. Godfrey chose not to resign due to the number of accomplishments he achieved and because his term did not expire until 2015.
"[The governor] does not have the right to ask for the resignation of the workers' compensation commissioner any more than he does to ask the resignation of any judge or a chief justice of the Supreme Court," Godfrey's attorney, Roxanne Conlin said. "There are rules about this, and he has blatantly broken them."
The claim is especially relevant since Iowa is the only state outside of the Northeast to have legalized gay marriage. The judicial ruling became one of -- if not the -- key issues in the last election. The Legislature is considering a bill that would not only make marriage equality illegal, but also any other legal way of recognizing gay relationships, such as civil unions or domestic partnerships.