More than 1,000 people rallied at the state Capitol on Saturday for the “Add the Words” bill, to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act and outlaw discrimination on those bases in housing, employment and public accommodations. Among the speakers was Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson, who told the crowd, “We all have a stake in equal justice and fair treatment. Public safety is rooted in trust and justice. Citizens must first feel a sense of safety before they can realize the other products of our society that make it functional and livable, like economic and cultural vitality, and recreation.”
The bill was introduced last week in the House Ways & Means Committee on a 6-1 vote, and is expected to be scheduled for a full hearing in the House State Affairs Committee the week of Jan. 26. Proponents have pushed the bill for the past nine straight Idaho legislative sessions without ever being granted a hearing.
Other speakers at the rally included Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, shown here at right in this photo by the UI Argonaut’s George Wood. "It is clear the people of Idaho are way ahead of the Legislature on this issue,” Jordan told the crowd. “Large cities and smaller towns have passed anti-discrimination ordinances to protect their citizens. It is our turn, as legislators, to do what is right.”
Ten Idaho cities have now enacted ordinances to ban discrimination against gays; the latest was Driggs in early January.