BOISE - Idaho Democrats have introduced the “Add the Words” bill – to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act to ban discrimination on those grounds – as a personal bill in the Idaho House.
The move came just in time for the deadline to introduce such bills, which don’t first pass through a committee, and in the House, are unlikely to get hearings. “We continue to work on a solution,” said House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, “but that’s the bill that is our preference, and we have not been offered a hearing on it.”
The Idaho Human Rights Act bans discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of race, gender, religion, age or disability, but doesn’t cover discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. That means that in Idaho, people could legally be fired from their job or evicted from their home solely because they’re gay.
Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, had been working to persuade Senate State Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, to schedule an introductory hearing on the bill in his panel, but he declined.
Last week, Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, met with former Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, to discuss the issue, the Idaho Statesman reported over the weekend. “We are probably closer than most people think we are,” Hill told the Statesman. “Nobody wants discrimination, but there are fears out there that we need to address on both sides.”
The Democrats’ bill, HB 69, is co-sponsored by every Democrat in the Idaho House and Senate.
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