The first four people to testify this morning at the HB 2 hearing all spoke against the bill, including Pastor Jeff Estes of Fellowship Baptist Church in Meridian, who said, “My argument against HB 2 is that instead of having cutout slices of people who are protected in their rights, we all should have a foundational right to freedom.” He said, “I am concerned about the ramifications HB 2 would have upon my church.”
Several lawmakers had questions for him, including how HB 2 could override the constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion. Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, asked Ken Connelly, attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, to answer questions about that, and steered the conversation to questions about bathroom use by transgender people.
“If we add gender identity to human rights, will it allow individuals in Idaho, transgender people, to go into a women’s bathroom or to go into a women’s locker room?” Crane asked. Connelly said he believed it would. “It would actually command gender neutrality,” he said. Crane responded, “So I’ve been hearing all along that places of worship are protected. If transgender person comes into church, they can go into the female bathroom?” Connelly said that’s a more complex issue.
Connelly said, “The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, you shouldn’t have to justify what you say in the pulpit to a court of law.” But he said that’s what happened in Houston, Tex. when pastors’ sermons were subpoenaed, though the move later was dropped.
Laurie Burchfield of Meridian told the committee, “Ladies and gentlemen, do you really want to legalize under the this bill pedophilia, sadism, bestiality, necrophilia … polygamy and others?” Her comment drew a muted groan from the audience, prompting committee Vice Chair Gayle Batt, R-Wilder, to caution the crowd to maintain decorum. “This is a dire concern to me,” Burchfield told the committee, “and I know to thousands of women across Idaho who are not able to be here today because they are home with their families and their children that they are raising. … Everyone should be free to go a public restroom without fear of people of confused sexual orientation … parading their genitalia.”
Burchfield’s husband, Darrell, said he’s a Realtor and he thinks if Idaho passes the non-discrimination bill, people won’t want to come to Idaho.