Idaho House, Senate plan joint forum on protections for LGBT residents

Staff Reports

BOISE, Idaho — Adding protections for gays and lesbians to Idaho’s Human Rights Act won’t get a vote this year.

But it is due be discussed, at least informally.

On Wednesday, the joint House and Senate State Affairs committees are set to hear presentations spearheaded by Democratic Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb of Boise.

Sen. Curt McKenzie, a Nampa Republican and Senate State Affairs Committee chairman, said Monday Buckner-Webb requested a forum to keep discussion of the issue alive, so proponents of adding workplace and housing discrimination protections for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender individuals can be heard.

Last year, a bill that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in cases of employment, housing or in other public amenities, was killed in McKenzie’s Senate panel.

GOP lawmakers refused to introduce it for a hearing.

McKenzie says he’s convinced the vote hasn’t changed, so he doesn’t want to schedule a formal hearing.

Several Idaho communities have since enacted their own non-discrimination ordinances.

In January, Ketchum, Id., passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations. Sandpoint passed its anti-discrimination ordinance in 2011 and Boise passed a similar measure in December.

Earlier this year, Twin Falls and Lewiston approved adding sexual orientation and gender identity to existing non-discrimination policies in hiring for city jobs.

Leaders in Pocatello, Idaho Falls and Moscow are also considering adding their own anti-discrimination bans.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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