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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘I was threatened, ‘Heavy hand of government,’ ‘Why don’t they just go elsewhere?’

In continuing testimony at today’s hearing on HB 2, the “Add the Words” civil rights bill to add anti-discrimination protections for gays to the Idaho Human Rights Act:

James Hanna told the House State Affairs Committee, “I never expected discrimination to happen based on my sexual orientation.” But he said while working at Harbor Freight Tools, he was harassed by a coworker for being gay. “I was threatened and felt unsafe to be here,” he said. He tried to file a complaint with the Idaho Human Rights Commission, but they wouldn’t take it because Idaho’s law doesn’t cover sexual orientation, he said. “Not supporting this is not the Idaho way,” he said. “Idaho is about respect and dignity of everybody here.”

Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow with the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., told the committee, “I business that places unfound prejudice” ahead of serving customers “will be punished by the forces of the free market itself. There is no need to bring the heavy hand of government down upon it.”

Arvell Bajema of Fruitland told the lawmakers, “I want to address a claim by many LBGTs that they were born with their sexual orientation or gender identity. … The reality is that all of us are designed by God to be heterosexual.”

Sylvia Chariton of the American Association of University Women said her organization strongly supports the law, to protect friends, neighbors and relatives who are gay or transgender. “Do what is right and just for these people,” she said.

Julie Staley of Idaho Falls said another woman threatened her husband’s business because he opposed a local anti-discrimination ordinance. “My question is why didn’t they just go elsewhere? Why is it so important to target small business?” she asked.




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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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