Is Iowa The New Enclave for Liberal Elites?

With the stroke of a State Supreme Court pen, Iowa became the first Midwest state to legalize gay marriage. This, in a country where we have two states that practically bleed blue — California and New York — falling behind the civil rights race. So is Iowa going to become the new home to progressives elites? Probably not anytime soon, but Will & Grace co-creator Max Mutchnick, who married Erik Hyman in just before Prop 8 took away gay marriage in California, muses: “Will we see David Geffen rollerblading in the Des Moines skywalk? Will paparazzi chase after farmers looking for candid shots? Will Ashton and Demi be BlackBerrying friends from their corner table at Applebee’s? Will there be a new line of Kiehl’s products for goats?”

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  • hawkeyejunior

    I live and go to school in Iowa City at the U, and the gay population is huge in eastern Iowa compared to other midwestern states. I did shots with the state rep the friday night they announced it at the gay bar in town. And we are fairly progressive on most things, I think some pols here just try and appease the western loony part of the state, where Steve King hails from. If he runs for governor it will be a sure re-election for Culver. I was on the Exec board of the UDEMS for two years too, and we are the largest org on campus. Before anyone criticizes Iowa, come to Iowa City, the Quad Cities, or Dubuque. You will have a jolly gay time.

  • JPinWeHo

    @hawkeyejunior: Iowa City is definitely a liberal town (and a very charming one). I frequently see same-sex couples holding hands in the street. But merely because a liberal college town Iowa City has one or two gay bars does not make the whole state gay-friendly. The same pattern can be seen in other midwestern states (e.g., liberal Ann Arbor in Michigan).

  • Alec

    @JPinWeHo: Agreed. If one only visited the college towns, Traverse City and Royal Oak you’d probably be left with the impression this wasn’t a horrid state for gays. We’re about 10 years behind Iowa, at least. If not longer.

  • hawkeyejunior

    I know, but if you go to Davenport, Bettendorf, Dubuque,Grinnell, etc, you will find it accepting as well. I am a native from Davenport. The QCA has the highest population of African Americans in the state, and it has an awesome support system for minorities. I am an ambassador for the U in the QCA for Latino and black students, and they would agree I am certain. Clearly Iowa City is acceptable as a college town, and I don’t think it (Iowa) will be the new liberal enclave, I was just sayin’ its pretty acceptable in eastern Iowa.

  • hawkeyejunior

    As a gay kid of mixed race, I had a very accepting place to grow up in, and had not been called anything bad or harassed until I went Illinois for a visit to my aunt’s. So obviously hatred is in Iowa,but we are looking pretty good in the middle of the country and putting up such progressive ideas, ie. Barack Obama’s caucus victory, Tom harkin who leads on the stem cell issue, and now this. Look into Iowa’s civil right’s history.

  • Chitown Kev

    I have no problem showing my next door neighbor, the Hawkeye State, a little love for a weekend. And I can do it on the cheap.

    For those who don’t know, in Illinois the University of Iowa has a nickname: The University of Illinois at Iowa. A lot of students from Illinois go to school in Iowa.

  • LA Gringo

    Hey don’t laugh. I live in Los Angeles and have to travel to Des Moines 1 -2 times a year. I LOVE THE SKYWALK SYSTEM they have downtown. Only 2 cities have extensive skywalk systems, Minneapolis and Des Moines, and DesMoines’ is much better than Minneapolis’. You really can’t describe it. Imagine a mall that’s 20 blocks long and 8 blocks wide. You can walk for miles and miles in climate controlled comfort, year round, having access to grocery stores, entertainment venues, corporate headquarters, large hotels, libraries, “street” performers all along the skywalk routes, a large downtown park, etc. Des Moines is definitely hip.

  • JPinWeHo

    @hawkeyejunior: Don’t get me wrong. I live in California – considered by many to be a liberal oasis – but in my books is ranking far below Iowa as far as gay rights are concerned!

  • dgz

    Des Moines is a giant, gay-friendly mall?!? well, color me iowan — i’m sold.

  • Gabriel

    I love Iowa. I lived in Ames for 12 years and it’s where I met my partner. Ames is a college town and thus more liberal than other towns in central Iowa but traveling around the state I never felt uncomfortable. We’re looking forward to going back there to get married.

  • audiored

    The other thing to remember about Iowa, it is dotted with little towns that host progressive liberal arts colleges that are often populated with a lot of LGBT students, faculty and staff. Places like Grinnell and Decorah. And then well you have places like Fairfield populated by aged hippies and the transcendental meditation people.

    So outside Des Moines and the state university towns of Iowa City, Ames and Cedar Falls, rural Iowa is not uniformly conservative. Actually one of the most conservative parts of the state is Dallas County in suburban Des Moines.

  • hawkeyejunior

    @Chitown Kev: Absolutely right, so many kids here are from the Chicago suburbs lol

  • LA Gringo

    So when you go to Des Moines to get married, here’s where to stay. At least it’s where I stay when I’m in Des Moines. Marriott has two large hotels downtown. One is a typical 25 story box structure BUT the other is a 10 story exquisitely decorated Georgian classic style hotel, a real flamer! The lobby SCREAMS with color. I live in L.A. and have traveled the world but I’ve never seen anyplace decorated like this hotel! It’s called the Marriott Renaissance Des Moines Savery. If you’re ever near Des Moines and can afford a pricey hotel, stay at the downtown Marriott Renaissance Savery. You’ll fall in love with the place.

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