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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Debate: ‘I’m sure that eventually we’ll continue to listen’

Rep. Kathy Sims said, “This has been 21 hours of some very compassionate testimony and I’ve listened to it all. But you know, the time I spent on Idaho’s Human Rights Commission taught me that mediation and compassion can be effective for both sides. I’m sure that eventually the Idaho Human Rights Commission will be chosen to deal with this. But definitions do matter, especially when you have two sides. And I know that we can’t ever legislate self-worth. That’s something you build on every day. So I’ll be voting to hold it in committee. But I’m sure that eventually we’ll continue to listen and we’ll continue to work and the Human Rights Commission will deal with this.”

Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, said, “I do think it’s the government’s responsibility to say who are the most vulnerable of our citizens, and who needs that protection.” She said, "I do not believe that human rights should be decided by popular vote. In our testimony, there were far more yes's' than no's. That doesn't matter to me." She recalled how Idaho's congressional delegation backed the 1964 Civil Rights Act even though it was highly unpopular in Idaho at the time. "Allow this to get to the House, let everyone vote on it. It's a huge issue for our state. It's waited nine years."

Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, the committee chairman, said, “Every member of this committee has changed because of this process. None of us here, as we’ve gone through this hearing, can honestly say that we have not been changed in our hearts and in our minds, because we all have. I don’t know the right word to use when it comes to the cruelty that has been experienced by people who testified here today. And I have to tell you that there’s no excuse for that cruelty, and as the chairman of this committee, and as an Idahoan, and as a legislator, I’m calling on the people of this state to stop the cruelty. It has no place in our society. And as a result of that, I’m calling on people everywhere to get over themselves, get on, get past all this, and to be less cruel or more favorably stated, kind in your approach to people who you may perceive that are different from you.” 

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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