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Politics & Government

Idaho House Speaker Says Gay Rights Protests Are Hurting Dialogue

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Adam Cotterell
/
Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Speaker of the House Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, expressed frustration Monday over the repeated gay rights protests at Idaho’s Capitol. About 100 people have been arrested so far this month in peaceful demonstrations. They're trying to convince lawmakers to protect gays, lesbians and transgendered people from discrimination.

Bedke told reporters the protests have not been good for thoughtful debate. He says he would prefer closed-door talks to reach compromise. But he couldn’t predict the outcome of such talks.

"These convictions are so tightly held by both sides that there are just certain places where some people will not go, period," Bedke says.

Gay rights activists have been trying for eight years to get a public hearing on a bill that would add the words "sexual orientation and gender identity" to the Idaho Human Rights Act. Bedke says a public hearing wouldn’t be useful.

But Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Idaho Falls, says a hearing may be a good way to have the conversation. Both agree there isn’t enough support among Republicans in the House or Senate to pass the measure.

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