When a routine bill from the state Tax Commission came up for a vote in the House today – to conform 2017 Idaho income tax laws to federal changes, which is expected to have only minimal fiscal impact in Idaho – Reps. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, and Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, spoke out against passing the bill, saying it would amount to bowing to federal pressure to overlook the invalidated clause that’s still in the Idaho Constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage.
“It does not matter which side of the issue you are on, we have sworn an oath to uphold our Constitution,” Scott declared. “And by passing this, we put every bureaucrat in our state government in a position where they are going to follow the tax conformity law and recognize marriage, which, we’re causing them to break their oath.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Nate gave an extended speech on his understanding of the U.S. Constitution, which differs sharply from the way it has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court over the course of the last two centuries, the Idaho Falls Post Register reported. “I think our founders intended (the states) to be independent nation-states bound together by a constitution, and that the federal government was subservient to the will of the states,” he said. The United States of America, he said, had become the “United Subservience of America.”
House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, spoke out forcefully, saying, “If this is truly about a constitutional argument … then we can admit removing it from the Constitution would be the best way.” He said, “The reality is that human rights are what unite the people of this country, not states’ rights. So if the argument is constitutional, then support getting it out of the Constitution, just as we did when this state made the mistake of banning other citizens from voting. Humans make mistakes. If you want to argue that it’s about the Constitution, then do it, but don’t hide behind the Constitution to be discriminatory.”
Idaho’s Constitution long banned Mormons from voting. Voters finally removed that clause from the Constitution in 1982, but even then, 34.3 percent of Idaho voters opposed removing the clause.
When Rep. John McCrostie, D-Boise, the House’s only openly gay member, rose to debate, he asked unanimous consent to allow himi to refer to other pending legislation, HJR 6 – a personal bill he’d introduced on the issue, which would remove the anti-same-sex marriage clause from the Idaho Constitution. Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, objected, and then moved to close the debate – a move that requires a two-thirds vote. That narrowly failed, 43-26; it needed 47 votes. All members of the House GOP leadership joined the majority in voting against the motion.
McCrostie then told the House, “The way to fix the conflict that is in Sections B and C (of the bill) is not to vote against this bill. It is to pass a different bill.”
HB 355 then passed, 64-5; the bill now moves to the Senate. The only “no” votes came from Reps. Ehardt, Hanks, Nate, Scott and Shepherd. Rep. Judy Boyle missed the vote.