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Court overturns gay bias verdict against ex-Iowa governor

Terry Branstad
Posted at 1:03 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 14:03:43-04

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad did not illegally discriminate or retaliate against a gay state official — overturning a landmark $1.5 million jury verdict.

The court on Wednesday found a lack of evidence to show Branstad, a former U.S. ambassador to China, discriminated against then-Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey because of his sexual orientation. Godfrey was widely known as openly gay, but justices say there is no proof Branstad was aware of Godfrey’s sexual orientation before asking him to resign and slashing his salary when Godfrey refused.

The ruling overturned a 2019 verdict that found Branstad, a Republican, violated the Iowa Civil Rights Act. Jurors had awarded Godfrey, a Democrat, $1.5 million in damages.