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Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘Vagueness in these terms,’ ‘Discrimination must be stopped,’ ‘I’ve been fired for being gay’

Jim Rodney Busbee testifies in favor of HB 2 on Tuesday evening (Betsy Russell)
Jim Rodney Busbee testifies in favor of HB 2 on Tuesday evening (Betsy Russell)

More testimony from tonight’s hearing on HB 2:

Barry Peters said he thought the term “sexual orientation” in HB 2 could be interpreted as including pedophilia. He said if he had a four-plex to rent and had families with children in three of the four units, and was approached by a prospective tenant, “and in my background check I find this person has been convicted of pedophilia, they’ve served their sentence, am I free to not approve them as a tenant in this building on this basis? Under this bill the answer is emphatically no. … That person would be very free to file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission … would be free to pursue even criminal proceedings against the owner, the manager of that property. That is the nature of vagueness in these terms.”

Michael Case, a member of the clergy of the Episcopal Church, told the committee, “Idaho is my home. My husband and I have raised three children here. My grandchild is being raised here. If I present myself as an ordained man, father of three, then I’m protected. The minute I add the fact that I’m also a gay man, that protection no longer exists. I cannot present myself as a partial person. I am either all or I am nothing. Until we are all protected, none of us are protected. Discrimination must be stopped.”

Jim Rodney Busbee, pictured above, told of how he wasn’t harassed in high school, because he was the jock – the one who took two girls to the senior prom. His voice breaking with emotion, he said, “I learned that being forced to live a lie slowly kills you from the inside out. … At the age of 16 I confided in my youth leaders about my problem. They devised a plan to make me straight. For two years I was raped. ... This was to ‘help me appreciate women.’ My life spun into a dark depression. … I sat up all night praying for God, that he would make me normal.” He said, “I’ve been rejected for who I am, and I’ve grown from it. I’ve been fired for being gay. I’ve been told ‘I don’t rent to gays,’ from a local rental company here in Boise, Idaho.” He urged passage of the bill, saying, “You have the opportunity to let thousands of Idahoans sleep in peace tonight, knowing that when they wake up tomorrow they can’t be fired for being gay, lesbian or transgender.”

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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