John M. Becker

Idaho Republicans Kill LGBT Rights Bill

Filed By John M. Becker | January 29, 2015 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Add the Words, Boise, heartbreaking, housing protections, Idaho, Republican Party, workplace discrimination, workplace equality, workplace protections

add-the-4-words-heartbreaking-vote.jpgThis morning -- after nearly 21 hours of debate over the past three days -- Republicans in the Idaho House's State Affairs Committee killed a bill that would have added the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the state's Human Rights Act. The party-line vote was 13-4.

Equality advocates have asked legislators to "add the words" for nine years, and protests in the state Capitol last year resulted in the arrests of over 100 demonstrators. This year was the first time hearings were held on the matter.

From the Idaho Statesman:

Some of the legislators who voted to defeat the bill expressed their willingness to support a future compromise bill.

"We have come a long way. I think this very hearing has brought us a long, long way," said Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, addressing supporters of the bill. "Do not despair. Your concerns are legitimate, very legitimate, and people in Idaho and in the Legislature have heard you and are hearing you."

But, he added, "We have to be very careful how we make those rules and today my feeling is that this is not the rule that addresses the whole picture."

The approved motion to block the bill was made by Andrus.

KBOI-TV adds that the hearings took a toll on the state's LGBT community, who shared stories of the hate and discrimination they encountered. A total of 134 people testified in favor of the measure (compared to just 54 against and 2 neutral), but that apparently wasn't enough to sway the House Republicans.

After the vote, LGBT people and allies lined up in the hallway outside the hearing room with their hands over their mouths -- the same pose they made during their historic protests last year. Many of them were stifling sobs.

Image credit: KBOI-TV. Obtained via Twitter.

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