Idaho Lawmakers To Hear "Add the Words" Legislation

Jan 14, 2015

Update 5:46 p.m. 

Idaho Republican leaders announced a change of course Wednesday and approved the introduction of a bill that would include sexual orientation and gender identity protections in the state's Human Rights Act.

The House Ways and Means Committee, made up of Republican legislative leadership, voted 6-1 to bring the proposed legislation to a full hearing.

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.

Original story:

Republican Idaho legislative leadership will consider introducing a bill that would add four words —sexual orientation and gender identity— to the Idaho Human Rights Act.

House Speaker Scott Bedke announced the hearing Wednesday, saying that the House Ways and Means Committee will meet at 5 p.m. to listen to the bill.

Gay rights advocates have been pushing for several years to hold a hearing on amending the Idaho Human Rights Act, which currently bans workplace and housing discrimination based on race, gender and religion.

Ways and Means Chairwoman Rep. Christy Perry says House Minority Leader John Rusche will present the bill.

Once the bill is introduced, Bedke says a full hearing will be scheduled the week of Jan. 26.