John M. Becker

'Turn Away the Gays' Bill Introduced in Idaho

Filed By John M. Becker | February 13, 2014 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: anti-discrimination law, Christianists, Cornerstone Family Council, Focus on the Family, GOP, Idaho, Lynn Luker, privilege, religious exemption, Republican Party, special rights, theocracy

Church-and-State.jpegAnother state legislative effort to grant special rights to anti-LGBT Christians has begun. This time it's in Idaho, where Republican State Representative Lynn Luker teamed up with a statewide conservative Christian group on a proposed bill that would prevent professionals from losing their licenses for refusing to serve or employ LGBT people.

Raw Story reports:

Rep. Lynn Luker outlined a proposal... backed by his conservative Christian allies to shield religious people from the threat of losing their professional licenses for refusing service or employment to anyone they conclude violates their religious beliefs.

"This is pre-emptive," said Luker, a Boise Republican. "The issue is coming, whether it's 10 years, or 15 years, or two years."

Idaho requires professional licenses for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, attorneys, social workers, firefighters, police officers, real estate agents, and insurance providers.

And lest there be any doubt as to the intended targets of this measure:

[Luker] cited efforts by LGBT activists in other states to end discrimination against them - including two cases where same-sex couples in Oregon and New Mexico were denied service at a bakery for their wedding cake or wedding photographs - as his motivation to act quickly in Idaho.

More, after the jump.

Monica Hopkins, the executive director of Idaho's ACLU chapter, calls the measure "a solution searching for a problem," as she cannot think of any real-world application for this bill. Neither can Tana Cory, who heads the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses; KBOI-2 reports that Cory "wasn't aware of any instance when somebody refused service brought a disciplinary case against one of her bureau's licensees." And Luker, the bill's sponsor (pictured below), can't point to a single example of an Idaho professional having their license challenged because they denied service to an LGBT person.

But remember, it's "pre-emptive."

lynn-luker.jpgLuker's proposal is additionally unnecessary because LGBT people are not included in Idaho's Human Rights Act, and Republican lawmakers in the state have fought long and hard to make sure things stay that way.

KBOI-2 has further details about the scope of Luker's bill:

The Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses helps oversee 29 boards that issue licenses for professionals Luker's measure aims to shield. Additionally, it extends a shield to nurses, doctors, teachers, firefighters and police officers, among others. If adopted, nobody could have his or her license revoked by a government agency or board for "declining to provide or participate in providing any service that violates the person's sincerely held religious beliefs."

The only concessions Luker is willing to make is for emergency treatment -- so police, firefighters, and EMTs would still have to help those icky gays, whether or not Jesus wants them to.

Luker's bill is backed by the Cornerstone Family Council, a state-level affiliate of the virulently anti-LGBT group Focus on the Family.

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