The ACLU of Iowa is proud to announce that it is giving this year’s Partners in Liberty organization award to One Iowa and its Edward S. Allen Award posthumously to Donna Red Wing.
The ACLU of Iowa Partners in Liberty Award
One Iowa was founded in 2005 to advocate for LGBTQ Iowans’ right to marry. The original goal of the organization was realized just four years later when the Iowa Supreme Court made the historic and unanimous Varnum v. Brien decision, making Iowa just one of three states in the country that recognized same-sex marriage.
The organization then worked to make sure that the hard-fought wins for marriage equality would not be reversed. After it became clear that the recognition of the fundamental right to marriage was here to stay in Iowa, One Iowa shifted to a broader approach to ensure that LGBTQ Iowans’ rights and dignity are respected in every facet and stage of their lives. One of the organization’s first major successes after this shift was working with HIV advocates to modernize Iowa’s HIV criminalization law in 2014.
One Iowa’s work currently includes educating Iowans about the LGBTQ community; training healthcare providers, law enforcement, employers, and others to ensure LGBTQ Iowans are respected in their everyday lives; promoting policies within state and local government that protect the civil rights, health, and safety of LGBTQ Iowans; empowering tomorrow’s LGBTQ leaders through training and mentorship; connecting LGBTQ Iowans with vital resources; working with communities of faith, addressing issues faced by Iowa’s LGBTQ seniors, and addressing discrimination against transgender Iowans.
One Iowa has also been an important partner with the ACLU, fighting together on transgender rights litigation and conducting advocacy and education on everything from student free speech to LGBTQ discrimination in public accommodations, such as wedding venues and public bathrooms.
The 2018 Edward S. Allen Award
It is fitting that as the ACLU of Iowa recognizes the work of One Iowa, it also recognizes One Iowa’s much-beloved former leader, Donna Red Wing. Donna passed away in April and is being given the Edward S. Allen Award posthumously.
Donna led One Iowa as executive director from 2012 to 2016, and her impact was tremendous. She effected change with a signature blend of warmth and a willingness to listen, fueled by a ferocious commitment to making the world a better place. It was Donna who led the expansion of the organization’s work into new areas after the battle for marriage equality ended.
She inspired a whole new generation of LGBTQ activists with work that spanned three decades. Donna was proud to be named "the most dangerous woman in America" by the Christian Coalition.
She served as executive director of Grassroots Leadership and chief of staff at Interfaith Alliance in Washington D.C. She held leadership roles at the Gill Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. She was also the first recipient of the Walter Cronkite Award for Faith and Freedom, and worked on numerous projects, initiatives and councils. In recognition of her considerable contributions, the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission recently named its annual lifetime achievement award after her.
The award is named after the organizer and first leader of the ACLU of Iowa, Edward S. Allen, an Iowa State University math professor. It honors a notable Iowan who has spent a significant portion of their life fighting for civil liberties.