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Iowa Gov. Tries Again To Get Gay Man on Civil Rights Commission

Gov. Chet Culver is trying again to get a gay man approved
to the Iowa State Civil Rights Commission.

Culver has appointed Des Moines
businessman Rich Eychaner, the same man Culver nominated last session but was
opposed by Republican senators. Eychaner was among 128 people Culver appointed
Monday to various state posts.

Lawmakers have denied that Eychaner’s sexual orientation
prompted their opposition, saying instead that Culver was trying to fill the
panel’s GOP-allocated spot with someone who only recently became a Republican.

Culver aides said getting Eychaner approved by the Senate
shouldn’t be a problem this time. They said Eychaner will have been registered
as a Republican for a significant stretch when the Senate considers the issue
next year. Two-thirds majority is needed for approval.

Eychaner has been a longtime Republican who ran for Congress
in 1982 under the GOP banner but was briefly registered as a Democrat in 2006.

In recent years, Eychaner has pushed Legislature to expand
gay rights. In the last session, he helped push for a measure giving gay and
lesbian students new protections from bullying. The Legislature has also
expanded the state’s civil rights laws to protect gays from discrimination in
employment, housing and other areas.

Culver also appointed former Agriculture Secretary and
legislator Paul Johnson to the Environmental Protection Commission.

Johnson is a former state legislator from Decorah who has
authored some of the most sweeping environmental laws on the books. He was the
main author of the Resource Enhancement and Protection Act, the state’s
centerpiece environmental legislation.

After leaving the Legislature in the 1980s, he served a
stint as secretary of agriculture in the late 1990s before returning to his tree
farm in Decorah.

– Associated Press

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