LGBT Rights Activists and ‘Supporters of Religious Freedom’ Face Off in Idaho Hearing on Non-Discrimination Bill: VIDEO

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As we reported yesterday, an Idaho House Committee had finally agreed to hear testimony on a proposed non-discrimination bill that would add protections for Idahoans based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The hearing, which began yesterday and continues today, saw at-times heated disagreement between LGBT rights activists who have long campaigned for legislators to "add the words" "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the state's existing Human Rights Act and backers of so-called "religious freedom" who claim that adding protections for LGBT individuals would infringe upon the rights of the religious.

The AP reports:

"Don't make laws that protect (against) laws against nature and sexual deviant acts," said Paul Thompson of Twin Falls. "Regardless of sexual orientation, it is a law that makes a mockery of all that is created and to our creator."

State Rep. John McCrostie of Boise, currently Idaho's only openly gay state lawmaker, responded that he, too, was a Christian and asked if Thompson's beliefs were greater than his own.

"I respect an individual's desire to want to live out their lives as they feel compelled to do so," Thompson said. "But I owe myself authority to the written word of God."

Many LGBT individuals spoke up at the hearing to share their own stories of discrimination in an attempt to underscore the importance of the bill:

"I want to be valued as a human being based on the person that I am, the person that my mother raised me to be," said Julie Stratton of Post Falls. "Please include my wife and me as fully equal citizens of this state and help us to be proud of living here."

Stratton's testimony —along with many other personal stories of discrimination from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Idahoans— was countered by the many concerns coming from pastors, small business owners and national conservative organizations afraid the bill would infringe on free speech and religious freedoms.  

Arizona-based United Families International President Laura Bunker cited cases in other states where businesses were sued for declining to serve to same-sex couples getting married. 

"In the end these non-discrimination laws are not fair to all. Someone is ultimately discriminated against," Bunker said. "Why would Utah, or Idaho, sorry, want to put that kind of wedge between its citizens?"

As KIVI News Boise reports, the hearing will resume Tuesday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and again at 5:00 pm if needed.

You can watch a livestream of the Idaho House committee's ongoing session today, HERE

And watch video on the testimony given yesterday, AFTER THE JUMP… (warning: autoplay)

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Comments

  1. GregV says

    This is obviously not about “religious freedom,” or they would have already been arguing for dismantling the words that keep OTHERS from discriminating against THEM. A Southerm Baptist Idaho woman has no desire to ensure the “religious freedom” of a Muslim fundamentalist male business-owner who wants to refuse to allow her to rent a car and an evangelical fanatic Idaho man has no desire to make sure that his atheist landlord has the right to kick him out of his house because he finds his religious beliefs absurd.
    They only want laws to ensure that only the people THEIR group hates are discriminated against, and that is not “freedom.”

  2. Sarah says

    “In the end these non-discrimination laws are not fair to all. Someone is ultimately discriminated against,” Bunker said. “Why would Utah, or Idaho, sorry, want to put that kind of wedge between its citizens?”

    Oh Ms. Bunker , poor sweetie…how can I say this politely?

    The ‘wedge’ is already there.

    This law REMOVES IT.

    But ‘bless yer heart’ for trying!

    • evas says

      Not really, We need a law that supports the rights of gays to live the way they want to ,and also does not take away the rights of those who desire to live differently than the gay community. This bill does not do that. America supports freedom and tolerance for all .

  3. Robert in SF says

    I guess to me, commercial enterprise is not religious activity…Once you decide you want to exchange money for service/goods, or accept tax incentives as compensation, you give up the right to say that anything you are doing is for religious purposes now…it’s all about the money.

    So anti-discrimination laws are perfectly applicable to commercial enterprises. And that does include non-profits.

    If a Babtist sued a Catholic church to get married there with a Catholic priest officiating a Baptist sermon and/or communion, then I am on the side of protection of religious freedom for that kind of discrimination.

    Want tax breaks on a gazebo you would have to make publicly available, and yet refuse to allow heathens to perform legal activities there, that’s a line drawn.

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