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Eye On Boise

‘Add the Words’ bill introduced on 6-1 vote

Idaho's House Ways & Means Committee considers introducing legislation to ban discrimination against gays; the
Idaho's House Ways & Means Committee considers introducing legislation to ban discrimination against gays; the "Add the Words" bill was introduced late Wednesday on a 6-1 vote. (Betsy Russell)

With a quick meeting, no questions or comments, and a 6-1 vote the House Ways & Means Committee has voted to introduce the “Add the Words” bill, to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act and ban discrimination on those bases in housing, employment and public accommodations; you can read my full story here at “This is really a very simple bill,” said House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston. “It enhances Idaho’s freedom, it protects against discrimination in education, employment and public accommodation. It simply states that sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be used to deny rights and opportunity available to Idahoans.”

He added, “This is language is consistent with the existing code and the Human Rights Act. It’s merely a question of fairness, freedom and equal treatment for all Idahoans.” Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, made the motion to introduce the bill. The vote clears the way for a full hearing on the bill, which is expected to be scheduled in the House State Affairs Committee the week of Jan. 26.

House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane, R-Nampa, cast the only dissenting vote. “I campaigned on traditional values and supporting traditional marriage. I promised the voters,” he said. “I think I got 74 percent of the vote in my legislative district based on this being one of my campaign platforms.”

House Majority Caucus Chairman John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, said, “I struggled with this for days. I’ve talked to my pastor, I’ve talked to other pastors. … I do think as a public official, the right to have a hearing is a right I cannot deny.” 

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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