Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘Offensive,’ ‘unnecessary,’ ‘Bill codifies discrimination’

In testimony on HB 427 this morning, all against the bill thus far:

Diane Tipton, who said, “I’m simply a concerned citizen,” asked, “Would this bill, if it becomes law give me the right, if my religion was one that said I could attack or even kill a person of color and not be prosecuted? … May I exercise my religion, even though it causes emotional … or physical harm or even death to another?”

Linda Crozier said, “This bill is not only offensive, it is unnecessary. As we’ve discussed, Idaho has an existing law that requires courts to address infringements on religious freedom. ... This bill would essentially allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against anyone on the basis of religious freedom. This includes any racial or ethnic group.” She said, “You have allowed this ludicrous bill to come to the floor even when you have denied the same for the ‘Add the Words’ bill for years. I am nothing short of appalled at both decisions.” Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, interrupted her, saying, “We’re going to draw the line there. This is about religious freedom and now what you’re talking about.”

Crozier concluded, “Don’t let this type of bigotry, prejudice and discrimination take hold in our state. Thank you.”

Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan urged the committee to reject the bill, saying, “This bill before you codifies discrimination. It will negate ordinances passed by several cities in Idaho,” and dissuade others from passing them. Jordan said, “If a man were to beat his wife and claim to an officer (on religious grounds) that she was not being submissive enough, an arresting officer could be subject to litigation.” She said. “The city of Boise is prepared to defend our ordinance. We cannot afford the perception that this bill gives the rest of the world.”

Brian Thom, bishop of the Episcopal Church in Idaho, said he spoke on behalf of a group of more than a dozen religious leaders in the audience; as bishop, he has oversight of 30 congregations across southern Idaho. “It would allow any follower of belief to act on the false premise that their interpretation of God is truer than anyone else’s,” Thom said, speaking against the bill. “We are free to choose our beliefs. We are not free to impose our beliefs on others. Refusing to serve a customer … is an infliction of that belief on that person. … It inflicts emotional injury. It is discrimination. … It actually inhibits true religious freedom of all persons.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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