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Eye On Boise

‘Add The Words’ rallies held across state

More than 1,000 people turned out for an "Add The Words" rally at the state Capitol on Saturday, reports the Boise Weekly, with hundreds then pouring into the state capitol and quietly posting sticky notes on glass doors inside with the message - asking support for adding "sexual orientation or gender identity" to Idaho's Human Rights Act, which now bans discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of race, religion or disability, but not sexual orientation. Similar rallies were held in numerous locations around the state.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reported on rallies in Caldwell, Nampa, and Weiser, and reported that Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, indicated he'll take the unusual step of allowing public testimony at a print hearing for the bill this year if requested to do so by the measure's sponsors; last year, Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai, D-Pocatello, introduced the measure as a personal bill, but McKenzie declined to schedule a hearing on it. A print hearing is the preliminary consideration of a bill by a legislative committee, at which members decide if the bill should be introduced, printed and given a bill number. Generally, such hearings are brief and include only comments from the bill's sponsor and questions from the committee; if a bill advances, the next step is a full public hearing.

The group's ongoing sticky note campaign was prompted by the lack of a hearing to take public testimony on the bill, despite pushes for it for the last six years; Capitol security personnel are removing the sticky notes once they're posted. "People's words are there in the statehouse," said campaign spokesperson Mistie Tolman. "For some of us, that's a start to a powerful conversation that's constantly improving the outlook for the legislation this year." Members of the group say they're posting the sticky notes because they can't otherwise get their point across to the Legislature without a hearing. The issue was a focus at Idaho's recent Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day celebration in the state capitol.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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