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Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘Render civil rights protections meaningless,’ ‘Religion should never be an excuse for hatred’

In more testimony today on HB 427:

Hannah Brass Greer of Planned Parenthood told the committee, “This bill would be bad for business and for the economy.” She said, “We cannot allow anti-civil rights legislation to move forward under the guise of religious freedom and render all of the state’s civil rights protections meaningless.”

Paul Stark, general counsel for the Idaho Education Association, said, “The IEA unabashedly supports the freedom of religion, however we stand in opposition to HB 426.” He said the bill would allow a teacher to be sued for following the laws and policies of the school district, and raised legal concerns about how the law would work. “An individual, just following directions or even following the mandates of this Legislature … you could find yourself liable,” he said.

Hannah Campbell, a 16-year-old Boise High School student, told the committee, “Religion should never be an excuse for hatred. … I believe the government should work to make every citizen feel safe.” She said, “This bill conflicts with non-discrimination laws already in place, and is unnecessary. It also conflicts with morals already accepted in our society.”

Lauren Bramwell, a BSU student and member of the Talking Broncos debate team, told the panel, “I think that essentially what this does is it makes this a very big burden for corporations, for businesses that are acting based on state statute and are held under threat of possible litigation. … It does have unintended consequences.” She said, “I urge you to look to the … technicalities of this bill, and to ask, do we really provide so many rights by passing this bill, in comparison to what we have status quo (with Idaho's current religious freedom 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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