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Some members of the LGTBQ+ community call bill’s passage by the Idaho House ‘disrespectful’

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 6:51 PM MST
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BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Some members of the LGTBQ+ community are expressing frustration over the content and speed at which some bills have been made available for a hearing during the tail end of this legislative session.

It’s a slap in the face of the basic humanity of LGTBQ+ people and the fight we have been longing for just to have basic protections from discrimination,” said Chelsea Gaona-Lincoln, the Executive Director of Add the Words, Idaho.

Add the Words, Idaho is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization dedicated to the “liberation, equity and equal treatment of LGBTQ+ people in Idaho.”

On Tuesday, House Bill 412 was presented before the Idaho House. The bill is termed a “civil rights bill,” elevating protections for those not vaccinated against COVID-19 by way of amending Idaho’s human rights commission.

Some members of the LGTBQ+ community found the bill passing the house by a 48 to 22 vote hard to believe.

It’s really almost surreal to see that after more than 10 years of just saying it’s too burdensome to ask businesses to serve a gay person or a transgender person, to employ us or to rent an apartment to us, that they have chosen for themselves to create a protected class in the human rights act and just protect themselves just because they’re unvaccinated,” said former Idaho State Senator Cole LeFavour.

LeFavour has long advocated for “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to be added to Idaho’s Human Rights Act. A bill adding protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation has been introduced to the Idaho Legislature every year since 2014. Only once has the bill even garnered a public hearing.

“We tried everything. We tried reasoned education. We tried lobbying. We tried putting sticky notes on every door in the Statehouse,” Lefavour said. “We finally stood in the doorways and tried to get them to go back down to their committee rooms to pass or at least hear our stories, and still they wouldn’t.”

While House Bill 412 ultimately did not become law, the immediate consideration of the bill will not be forgotten, as some like Gaona-Lincoln say the message sent by lawmakers is clear.

“Whenever we think it can’t get worse, they seem to outdo themselves,” said Gaona-Lincoln. “I went to school and college here, but it makes us reconsider do we want to stay here as taxpayers? Do we want to raise a family here?”

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