Gay Rights

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

 Thursday marks one year since same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho. That means it’s also the one year wedding anniversary for Rachael and Amber Beierle. The Beierlies are one of four couples who sued to overturn Idaho’s ban on gay marriage. We heard from them several times over the course of their lawsuit.

This week, our Adam Cotterell checked in with the couple to see how their lives have changed. The biggest difference, Amber says, is a third member in their family...who was also there for our interview. Hear all three Beierlies by clicking play.

Boy Scouts of America

The Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban on gay troop leaders and volunteers Monday. The controversial ban was something some conservative groups in Idaho wanted to keep in place. However, many religion-based troops are expected to take advantage of a compromise that's expected to result in few actual changes. 

Kellie Parker / Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this week, Latah County officials voted to update their employee handbook to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The rule only applies to LGBT people who work for the county, and not the entire population.

“At this point it’s not on our agenda to take that up, although it could be," says Latah County Commissioner Tom Lamar. "It could be talked about more.”

isvend09 / Flickr Creative Commons

The city of Hailey will soon be added to a growing list of Idaho towns with non-discrimination ordinances that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Hailey's new law will take effect later this spring, and will ban discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. At that point, more than 450,000 Idahoans will be protected under one of these municipal laws. That's almost 30 percent of the state's population.

Tim Connor / Flickr Creative Commons

Hailey is set to become the 11th city in Idaho to pass a non-discrimination ordinance. The law – which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity – comes after the Idaho Legislature failed to pass a similar statewide measure earlier this year.

Hailey city attorney Ned Williamson drafted the ordinance, and says he looked to Boise's 2012 law as a model.

Frank Swift / Flickr Creative Commons

After a failed attempt to pass what's known as Idaho's "Add the Words" bill earlier this session, some people are looking to a neighboring state for guidance.

Last week, Utah's Republican-led Legislature passed what's being touted as a landmark gay rights law that has the support of the Mormon Church.

This story was updated at 12:05 p.m.

More than 20 gay rights activists have been arrested after protesting in the Idaho House and Senate chambers in an attempt to pressure lawmakers into passing anti-discrimination protections.

Activists taking part in the protest that started Monday morning warned they would not voluntarily leave until legislators consider adding four words — sexual orientation and gender identity — to the Idaho Human Rights Act.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The legal team that successfully fought to overturn Idaho's ban on gay marriage has filed paperwork seeking an additional $300,000 in court costs.

Boise attorney and lead counsel Deborah Ferguson filed the three-page motion Thursday in federal court to cover legal expenses since late May.

A federal judge late last year awarded Ferguson and her team $400,000 for work through May.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Earlier this week, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held a rare press conference announcing their support of laws that would protect gay and transgender people from discrimination while still safeguarding religious freedom.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

After more than 20 hours of public testimony, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee decided to kill the "Add the Words" bill that would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Idahoans.

The House State Affairs Committee —made up of the Legislature's most conservative lawmakers— voted 13-4 to hold the bill in committee. Democrats voted in favor of the bill.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A panel in the Idaho House is expected to vote this morning on a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The vote comes after three days of hearings.

The nearly 20 hours of testimony came from gay people speaking about their experience with discrimination in Idaho. Parents talked about worrying their gay or transgender children would be fired or kicked out apartments.

Opponents of a gay rights measure in Idaho are highlighting what they call the “bathroom” problem.

Mormon church, temple square, salt lake city
Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons

Mormon church leaders are making a national appeal for a "balanced approach" in the clash between gay rights and religious freedom.

The church is promising to support some housing and job protections for gays and lesbians in exchange for legal protections for believers who object to the behavior of others.

It's not clear how much common ground the Mormons will find with this new campaign. The church insists it is making no changes in doctrine, and still believes it's against the law of God to have sex outside marriage between a man and a woman.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Several hundred people packed an auditorium in the Idaho Capitol Monday for a hearing on a measure known as the Add the Words bill.

It’s the first time the Legislature has considered a bill that would make sexual orientation and gender identity a protected class in Idaho -- like race or religion. Proponents have been trying to get it heard for nine years.

Some of the most emotional testimony came from the parents of gay and transgender children.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Thousands of Idahoans have flocked to the Statehouse to testify in front of lawmakers concerning a bill that would include sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the state's Human Rights Act.

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

Kyle Green
Idaho Statesman

For the first time in nine years, supporters of the "Add the Words" movement will get the chance to testify in front of lawmakers. On Monday, the House State Affairs Committee will hear HB 2 beginning at 8 a.m.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Idaho's Constitutional Defense Fund committee has approved the latest round of legal bills in Idaho's court fight over gay marriage.

The panel — made up of the governor, attorney general, House Speaker and President Pro Tem — unanimously voted to pay roughly $401,000 to the winning side's attorney fees and printing costs. Members then voted 3-1 to pay $55,000 for outside counsel to appeal Idaho's gay marriage case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court.

protest, capitol
Courtesy Idaho Statesman

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.

Idaho Air National Guard / Flickr

An Idaho Navy veteran, who wanted to be buried with her late wife, will get her wish.

The Spokesman-Review’s Eye on Boise blog reports the head of the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery says there’s no longer a reason to keep the two apart. Madelynn Taylor has her wife Jean Mixner's ashes. She wanted to set up arrangements to have her ashes interred with Mixner's at the cemetery in Boise.

A U.S. Navy veteran is suing after the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery refused to allow her to be buried with the ashes of her late wife.

Seventy-four-year-old Madelynn Taylor tried to make advance arrangements last year to have her ashes interred with Jean Mixner at the cemetery.

The couple was legally married in California in 2008, but cemetery employees refused her request because Idaho state law doesn't recognize their marriage.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Members of Idaho's “add the words” movement have spent the last eight years asking state lawmakers to make it illegal to fire or deny housing to people because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Now a new documentary called "Add The Words" explores the events of the 2014 legislative session when that protest movement turned into large-scale civil disobedience.

Eric Fredricks / Flickr Creative Commons

A small town on Idaho's border with Wyoming is the latest city to approve employment, housing and public accommodation protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Victor, Idaho is the eighth city to approve a non-discrimination ordinance. It says people can’t be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  

Pocatello Voters Keep LGBT Protections

May 20, 2014
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A ballot measure in Pocatello that would have repealed the city's non-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people failed by a narrow margin according to the Idaho State Journal.

Gay marriage, couples, lawsuit
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson have been together for three years. Within the last six months they've become the public face of an effort to strike down Idaho's constitutional ban on gay marriage. At home, they're like many other couples playing with their dogs on the back patio.

“Charlie's the corgi,” Amber says. “Then we’ve got the Labradoodle Boozer. And Georgia is the basset hound.” Add in Herman, the big orange cat, and that’s their family -- so far. The two have planned on having kids ever since they got together more than three years ago.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s 2014 legislative session may well be defined by protests. Gay rights advocates stepped up pressure on lawmakers to extend discrimination protections to gays, lesbians and transgender people. More than 100 people were arrested in numerous protests. Those were well choreographed and featured people standing silently, each with a hand over his or her mouth. Now, organizers are bringing this distinctive strategy to other parts of the state.

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