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Idaho GOP refuses to ‘add the words’ to prohibit LGBT discrimination

Sunday, February 12, 2012
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BOISE, Idaho — Republican senators on the Senate State Affairs Committee killed a bill on Friday that would have prohibited discrimination against LGBT persons in Idaho.

The bill would have added the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to Idaho’s Human Rights Act.

The committee’s decision left a room of about 300 advocates stunned, reported the Idaho Statesman.

“One called out, “Shame on you.” Another, “What a joke.” Most were quiet, leaving sticky notes that symbolize the campaign, including this from Tim Walsh: “Bigotry hurts everyone. Add the words.”

Walsh was among about 30 wearing T-shirts that said “Add the Words Idaho.” They stood, hands over mouths, as the hangdog committee filed from the room. Then they sang “We Shall Overcome.”

The measure was sponsored by state Sen. Edgar Malepeai (D-Pocatello), who was the only person who testified on behalf of the bill.

“This legislation does not create a new protected class, since all people have a sexual orientation and gender identity. It ensures all Idahoans are free to hold jobs and rent apartments regardless of whether they are straight or gay,” Malepeai said.

“We owe it to those who know and love their gay family members and friends to take this issue seriously and allow them to speak about the harm they see being done each day in Idaho without the voice of the state finally saying that discrimination is wrong,” he added.

The vote was 7-2 — all seven Republicans on the committee voted against it.

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