After 9 Years, Gay Rights Bill Gets Its First Hearing In Idaho Legislature

Jan 15, 2015

A gay rights proposal known as the “Add the Words” bill will be heard for the first time in the Idaho legislature.

A committee of the Idaho House voted 6-1 Wednesday to introduce a bill that would ban discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. The measure would add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected classes in Idaho’s Human Rights Act.

House Majority Assistant Leader Brent Crane of Nampa voted against the bill, saying he voted to protect marriage between one man and one woman. The bill does not address same-sex marriage but Crane says that the two issues are closely connected.

The legislation, commonly called the "Add the Words" bill has been denied a public hearing for nine consecutive years.

This is only the first step. It just means the issue will be opened to debate, and that debate will likely be an intense one. Republican leaders have already expressed concerns about how the law would affect religious freedoms.

But even an introduction is farther than the gay rights measure has ever gotten. Ty Carson is part of the group that’s been pushing for a hearing for years.

“And now we need the rest of the legislature to get on board and finally say that it’s wrong to fire, evict and deny people housing,” he said.

Last year dozens of gay rights activists were arrested at the capitol during demonstrations for the bill.

Ten Idaho cities have adopted local gay rights laws.

  • Sandpoint
  • Boise
  • Ketchum
  • Coeur d'Alene
  • Moscow
  • Victor
  • Pocatello
  • Idaho Falls
  • Lewiston
  • Driggs