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Idaho legislative panel kills proposal to add statewide LGBT protections

Julie Zicha, center in white, is comforted by Gretchen Bates, in black, as the Idaho House State Affairs committee voted to keep HB2 in committee on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015.
Julie Zicha, center in white, is comforted by Gretchen Bates, in black, as the Idaho House State Affairs committee voted to keep HB2 in committee on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. Katherine Jones, The Idaho Statesman (AP)

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During Monday’s meeting, House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane asked lobbyist Bill Roden – who presented the bill to the committee- for the definition of sexual orientation. Roden, a Boise attorney who served in the Idaho Senate for four terms, declined to give an answer and said he wouldn’t draw a specific line.

Crane said Thursday that it was a defining moment on his voting decision.

“Definitions do matter, words do matter,” he said. “If you’re going to add words, we need to know what those definitions are.”

Rep. John McCrostie of Boise objected to the suspicions surrounding the bill’s impact on religion. As Idaho’s only openly gay lawmaker, McCrostie said unlike his peers, when he goes home each night, he’s at risk of being denied service at a restaurant.

“This isn’t the gay guy giving the gay vote. You don’t have to know I’m gay all the time. What you need to know when we’re talking education is that I have been a teacher for 12 years,” McCrostie said. “When we’re talking about updating the Idaho Human’s Right Act, that’s when you need to know that I’m gay.”

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Committee chairman Rep. Tom Loertscher said cruelty has no place in society. He said that as an overweight man for most of his life, he understood living with discrimination, but he could not support the legislation as written.

“I am calling on people everywhere to get over themselves and to get past it,” said the Iona Republican.

Currently, 19 states have passed anti-discrimination laws that include sexual-orientation and gender-identity protections. Ten Idaho cities have approving their own anti-discrimination ordinances.

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