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Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘Beliefs of a few,’ ‘People with evil intent,’ ‘All of us fear something’

Of the 20 people who have testified on HB 2 so far this morning, in the first hour and a half of testimony, just one has opposed the bill, and one other said he wanted a delay rather than a yes or no vote. All the rest strongly supported the bill, which would ban discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. From this morning’s testimony:

Bill Rath read from the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “I ask you please not to let the beliefs of a few trample the rights of the majority,” he said.

Sterling Mortensen, the only one this morning to speak directly against the bill, said, “I believe there is good and evil in the world. … What I’m most worried about is when you make legislation, you’ve just made a tool… It can be used as a weapon too.” He said, “This is not the same as race, this is sex, and sexual morality. The feelings run deep. … There are people with evil intent and I am worried. ... Please don’t unleash these people with new powers to do things. … You can’t sweep conscience under the rug, you can’t sweep religious beliefs under the rug.”

Robert Spencer, an Episcopal priest from Eagle, said, “I’m not sure I like change. … All of us fear something in our lives.” He said, “I came out in my 40s, after I moved to Idaho.” In his church, he said, “We’ve arrived at being able to bless unions between same-gender couples.”

John Fritz, a high school senior, said, “I am terrified for my future, where one person who thinks I’m a monster has the power to ruin my life.” He said he transferred schools because of complaints about his being gay. Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, told Fritz, “I’m sorry for what’s happened to you. I too have experienced bullying. I have had my family threatened. I’ve had my life threatened. I’ve had my home egged. I’ve had threats upon my children to be raped. I understand some of the hurt, some of the fear, some of the concerns that you have, so if you don’t mind, I’d like to step outside with you and tell you some of the things I have done that have helped me get thru some of the difficult and dark times in my life.”

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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