'Add the 4 Words' protesters are standing in the chamber of the Idaho House this morning and refusing to leave, and blocking the main entrance to the Senate chamber, calling for consideration of legislation to add the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the Idaho Human Rights Act, to ban discrimination on those bases in housing, employment and public accommodations in Idaho. Legislation to make that change was the subject of a lengthy public hearing earlier this session in a House committee, but was voted down on a party-line vote, with all Republicans on the House State Affairs Committee opposing it, and minority Democrats supporting it.
A statement from the protesters says, "Today the 22 of us stand peacefully, silently and respectfully in place in the Capitol where we will stay until serious consideration is given to a bill to add the 4 words to Idaho law, showing the Idaho Legislature's respect for religious values and the golden rule. We are ordinary Idaho citizens of all ages and backgrounds. We are gay, straight, transgender, we are parents, grandparents, clergy, business owners and community leaders. We stand for the two-thirds of Idaho that supports this legislation."
Former state Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, said the committee that rejected the earlier bill indicated it'd consider a compromise. She called for consideration of compromise language that's been put forth and drawn some support behind the scenes, including adding specific exemptions for religious organizations and for businesses expressing their First Amendment rights. LeFavour contended there's GOP support for the compromise approach, which also addresses definitions and makes it clear that the anti-discrimination language would not impair prosecution of criminal activity in restrooms, locker rooms or places of public accommodations, and that House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill are blocking consideration of that measure.
Bedke said Friday, "The sides are talking. They're trying to build on the results, if you will, or the things that came out of the hearing. But to say that the sides have reconciled and have come up with THE language, I think is inaccurate. ... To say that we are there, I think is an overstatement."