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Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘Not a choice,’ ‘Right side of history,’ ‘Look into your hearts’

The House State Affairs Committee has resumed taking public testimony on HB 2, the bill to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act, to ban discrimination in housing, employment or public accommodations on those bases. Among those testifying:

Cindy Gross, chair of the Add the Words campaign, told the committee, “I stand here because if I don’t, I won’t be able to look at myself in the mirror in the morning.” She said, “I agree with the (Boise) Chamber of Commerce that updating the Human Rights Act is good for business. … I never made a choice to be straight. It’s not a choice, it’s the way I was born. … I choose every day to treat others the way I would want to be treated, because it’s the right thing to do.” Gross said, “As a compassionate human being, I urge you to vote yes.”

Mary-Selena Melhado said, “A lot of people here in this wonderful, amazing state can still legally be discriminated against. … The individuals in the LGBT community need equal rights and equal protections under the same laws that the rest of us are protected under. … Here today this is another chance for Idaho to be on the fair side, the right side of history.”

Linda Crozier said, “I believe that gay and transgender people have it much harder than we do. They have to listen to harsh testimony in the name of religion that lumps them in with pedophiles and perverts, and for that I’m sorry. They often have to hide from their landlords and employers and places where they do business.” She cited stories of emotional and physical abuse. “We have all heard those stories the last two days. …  Respect all people, treat others as you would like to be treated. … Look into your hearts and support this bill to be sure that every Idahoan has the same opportunities that you or I do.”

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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