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


Idaho House Committee Holds Historic Hearing On 'Add The Words' Bill Seeking LGBT Protections

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Add the Words, Idaho. 

That will again be the simple message from LGBT advocates to state lawmakers as an Idaho House Committee holds the first-ever hearing on a proposal to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's Human Rights Act. 

Hundreds are expected to testify at the hearing, which begins this morning but could last for up to three days.

The hearing comes nine years after the legislation was first introduced and is a major milestone for the colorful Add the Words, Idaho campaign, which last year staged a demonstration at the Capitol leading to dozens of arrests. 

KTVB-TV reports: 

This weekend training was offered at the Democratic Party headquarters to people who wish to testify at the hearing. They learned about the legislative process and what they can expect if they approach the microphone.

"A lot of people have concerns and they have questions," said Evangeline Beechler, who is the state chair of the LGBTA Democratic Caucus and helped organize the training. "We want to make sure they feel OK going in. You know this is people's livelihood, housing, employment, and it can be very scary because at this point without the 'Add the Words' bill they could lose their job." ... 

Chair of Add the Words Idaho, Cindy Gross, says this year it's more important then even to have their voices heard.

"Now that Idaho has marriage equality there will be more gay and transgender people going to work with a ring on their finger, and it will be more likely that they'll be discriminated against," said Gross. "It is now more important we add the words sexual orientation and gender identity to the Human Rights Act."

The hearing before the House Committee on State Affairs begins at 8 a.m. Mountain time. Watch it live here

Watch KTVB's report, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Idaho House Committee Holds Historic Hearing On 'Add The Words' Bill Seeking LGBT Protections" »


Gay Families Crash Bigoted Idaho Governor Butch Otter's Halloween Event: VIDEO

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A group of gay and lesbian families and allies from the "Add the Four Words" activist group went to the steps of the Idaho statehouse on Friday where Governor Butch Otter was having a "trick-or-treat" Halloween party  for constituents, ABC6 reports:

They carried treat bags that read "another Idaho family who supports A.J. Baulkoff governor."

They even posed for a picture with the governor and his wife, saying "Idaho's new family" before snapping the shot -- something many thought they would never have the chance to say.

"It was mixed emotions, but mostly I am just excited that as a family we could even have the thought to come down here,” said Ty Carson. “I've lived here, I'm a third generation Idahoan and I would have never thought that my family would be welcome at the capitol building. I was full of excitement. My heart was racing."

Otter has vowed to keep fighting the Ninth Circuit decision which overturned the state's gay marriage ban and said last week in debate that he's "not ready to surrender to a few folks in black robes." The governor has filed a long shot petition asking  for an en banc rehearing of the case by the full court.

Watch ABC6's report (autoplay), AFTER THE JUMP...

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Lesbian Veteran Files Lawsuit To Be Buried With Late Wife in Military Cemetery: VIDEO

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The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and attorneys Deborah A. Ferguson and Craig Durham filed a lawsuit yesterday on behalf of military veteran Madelynn Lee Taylor to grant her burial rights in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery where her late spouse Jean Mixner’s ashes have already been laid to rest.

Cemetery employees denied Taylor’s request last year because Idaho state law prohibits recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages.

In a statement, Taylor said “Idaho is where some of our best memories together are and it’s where I want to spend eternity with Jean."

The lawsuit argues that the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

On May 13th, U.S. District Magistrate Candy Dale struck down Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage.

However, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has placed a stay on the ruling following an appeal from Idaho Governor Butch Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

Arguments in the case are set for September 8.

Read Taylor's 15-page lawsuit here.

Watch Taylor's story, which we posted last April, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lesbian Veteran Files Lawsuit To Be Buried With Late Wife in Military Cemetery: VIDEO" »


Hundreds Surround Idaho Statehouse in Support of LGBT Rights: VIDEO

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At the Idaho Statehouse in Boise on Monday, hundreds of demonstrators circled around the building to greet lawmakers and push for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to be added to the Idaho Human Rights Act.

Idaho's Republican lawmakers have repeatedly declined to hold a hearing on possible changes to the state's human rights act for several years. Supporters of the “Add the Words” movement say updating the human rights act would protect LGBT people in Idaho from discrimination in housing and employment. 

Last month, police arrested 32 LGBT activists at the state Capitol who were protesting lawmakers' refusal to bring up the issue. 

Check out footage and a news report of the rally, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Big News from Boise, Idaho as City Council Unanimously Approves LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance: VIDEOS

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Boise, Idaho's City Council took a big step forward last night, passing an ordinance protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation before a packed house that rose to gave it a standing ovation when the vote was over.

Writes the Statesman:

Following unanimous passage of the ordinance, the standing-room-only crowd in the State Capitol’s west wing auditorium stood and cheered. Jordan and fellow councilwoman Lauren McLean, who spearheaded the effort to draft the ordinance, said it is something Boise has lacked and will help the city’s standing with companies considering whether to open new establishments here. Churches, private organizations such as The Boy Scouts of America and other governments operating in the city are exempt from the law, which takes effect Jan. 1.

Boise is the second city in the state (and the largest) to pass such an ordinance. The first was Sandpoint.

Watch reports from KBOI and NWCN, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Big News from Boise, Idaho as City Council Unanimously Approves LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance: VIDEOS" »


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