Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt, author of the 1969 Idaho Human Rights Act, has distributed a guest opinion to Idaho newspapers calling on lawmakers to "Add the Words" and extend anti-discrimination protections under the law to include gays. In the article, Batt reviews the history of human rights issues in Idaho that he dealt with in his long public career, and tells of his sorrow that a gay grandson has left the state for California, as has the young man's sister. "These young folks love Idaho and I wish they lived here so that I could see them more," Batt writers. "However, they will never make this their home again as long as we maintain our disdain for people who are different than most of us."
"I would like to have somebody explain to me who is going to be harmed by adding the words to our civil rights statutes prohibiting discrimination in housing and job opportunities for homosexuals," Batt writers. "Or, I forgot, that might hurt the feelings of the gay bashers." Click below for his full piece.
By Phil Batt
For release: Noon 12M Wednesday February 26, 2014
The Idaho Legislature has once again decided to take no action to include sexual orientation under our anti-discrimination statutes. Instead, they seriously considered state approval of anti-gay incidents if they are done because of religious convictions.
These procedures and the protests generated by them have attracted the attention of major news outlets in large cities and even that of London newspapers.
Idaho leaders have said this is of no interest to present or prospective business opportunities in our state. In my career as a Legislative leader and as a Governor, I found otherwise. Large Idaho corporations, and particularly Hewlett-Packard and Boise Cascade, were very much concerned about Idaho’s reputation regarding tolerance.
The long presence of practicing Nazis, in North Idaho, caused negative press coverage of our beloved state worldwide. H.P. executives and other Idaho business people helped force these scumbags out. However the main credit goes to North Idaho citizens who detested their abominable presence.
When an Idaho Congresswoman said people of color would not live in North Idaho because it was too cold for them, we got another wave of bad publicity. She recanted her views and our good name was again restored.
Our Idaho executives told me that the State’s reputation is important to their businesses. If it is damaged, sales are hurt. Perhaps more importantly, it becomes much more difficult to attract outstanding, well qualified and forward thinking people to apply for Idaho employment.
Such is the case for a couple of my grandchildren. Max is gay. He attended Boise Schools. He felt marginalized and troubled by some of the treatment he received from students and teachers. Ultimately, due to this, he dropped out, obtained his G.E.D. and moved to San Francisco.
He waited tables and washed dishes until he became a legal California resident. He then obtained a degree in Fine Arts from a leading design school.
Max achieved a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s degree. Even before he left school he had several job offers in the computer design field. He accepted one at a high salary plus valuable options. He is now earning considerably more and has had numerous opportunities to advance further.
His sister Anna, followed him to California, became a resident and entered the higher education system at Berkeley. She was a great student and was shepherded through her bachelor’s and master’s degrees by professors who took a special interest. She is now pursuing a doctorate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Southern California.
These young folks love Idaho and I wish they lived here so that I could see them more. However, they will never make this their home again as long as we maintain our disdain for people who are different than most of us.
I would like to have somebody explain to me who is going to be harmed by adding the words to our civil rights statutes prohibiting discrimination in housing and job opportunities for homosexuals.
Or, I forgot, that might hurt the feelings of the gay bashers.