Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said the current federal lawsuit challenging Idaho’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is the reason he believes this year is not the time for a hearing on the “Add the Words” bill. “Why do they want to float something that has no chance of getting through, when after the lawsuit, it might have a chance?” Hill asked. “Let’s see what the courts say. By next session, we will have at least an initial ruling.”
Hill said he understands that there’s a difference between the two issues – the “Add the Words” bill would extend Idaho’s Human Rights Act to ban job and housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity – but said the outcome of the court case could change the environment of the debate. He also said in some other states, the existence of anti-discrimination laws has been used as a legal argument in favor of overturning bans on gay marriage. “In my mind, the goal ultimately is to allow gay marriage in Idaho,” Hill said. If that’s how the court rules, he said, “I think there’s going to be a much different attitude towards the housing and employment.”
Hill said, “My feeling was it wouldn’t be a good year to pursue it.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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