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Idaho House takes ‘thoughtful pause’ on bill to allow religious discrimination

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
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BOISE, Idaho — While a similar billed sailed through the Kansas state House on Wednesday, Idaho lawmakers sidetracked a measure that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay customers based on their religious beliefs.

Idaho Statehouse in Boise.

Idaho Statehouse in Boise.

The measure from Republican Rep. Lynn Luker of Boise, easily one of the 2014 session’s most-disputed, makes it tougher to sue people who cite their religious faith for not serving, among others, gay and lesbian customers.

The bill has been awaiting amendments in the House after clearing a committee last week.

But House Speaker Scott Bedke said Wednesday the measure won’t be debated this week.

Bedke, a Republican from Oakley, isn’t ruling out the bill’s resurrection, and that it could re-emerge as a modified measure.

But for now, Bedke told the Spokesman Review, it’s better to take a “thoughtful pause” on an issue that’s inflamed the passions of religious conservatives and gay rights activists.

Meanwhile, a similar bill allowing faith-based refusals to recognize same-sex unions or to provide goods, services, accommodations or employment benefits to gay couples, was approved in the Kansas state House, and will now be considered by the Senate.

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