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Testimony: ‘An effort to block that,’ ‘Say no for my safety,’ ‘People should all have the same rights’

More testimony:

Barry Peters, a board member of Cornerstone Family Council, spoke in favor of HB 427. “As you’re hearing this morning, discrimination is large on the minds of the people in opposition to this bill. My question is, this law, religious freedom restoration in Idaho, has been on the books for 14 years. My question is, where are the stories? Where are the cases of child abuse in the name of religious liberty? Where are the cases of spousal abuse in the name of religious liberty? Where are these cases? The answer is so far in 14 years, there have been none.” He said, “It was the anomalous situation in New Mexico that has brought this to the foreground. … There’s certainly no legal precedent for it … it lacks a certain logic …  but nonetheless it is the law of New Mexico. … So this effort is simply an effort to block that.”

Rep. Holli Woodings, D-Boise, asked Peters whether cases of child or spousal abuse wouldn’t trigger the “compelling governmental interest” standard in the existing religious freedom law, and he said it was, and that’s why there are no such cases.

Patrick Metts told the committee he’s a trans-male and a Catholic. “I’ve been verbally and physically assaulted,” he said. “I feel that if this bill is passed, that abuse is only going to get worse. … I just ask that you’d say no to this bill for my safety and for the safety of all my colleagues and my friends.” Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, told him, “I appreciate your situation and I empathize with you. My question is, do you think that I would be more inclined to offer service to you in any regard to your life and well-being, if I did it voluntarily, or if I was forced to do so?” Metts struggled with his response, finally saying, “If you’re forced to provide services to me based on my Catholicism and based on my trans-gender, the service is there – I’m not going to suffer.”

Zach Voss told the committee that he’s a small business owner in Boise, and doesn’t think the bill would help economic development in the state. “I urge you to vote no,” he said. “I don’t think that our quality of life in Idaho should hang in the balance.”

Paul Rolig, a board member of Humanists of Idaho, said “We oppose this bill because we oppose special rights for religious people. We believe that religious and non-religious people should all have the same rights and responsibilities under the law.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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