Will Idaho Be #20? States with LGBT Protections

Idaho lawmakers consider civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons as the Mormon Church throws in their conditional support for such measures.

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The Idaho State Affairs Committee is hearing public comment on a bill to amend the Idaho Human Rights Act to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as categories protected from discrimination in housing and employment. Support for the expanded protection is known as the Add the Words movement.

Only 18 other states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws protecting both sexual orientation and gender identity from discrimination, and only four states have passed laws protecting just sexual orientation.

Idaho Protections for LGBT Persons: Just a Pipedream?

The Add the Words amendment faces an uphill battle. Idaho is considered the second “reddest” state in the U.S. with 58 percent of voters identifying themselves as Republican.

State Senator Brent Hill said he believes the Add the Words campaign merits public hearing, but he stopped short of expressing confidence in the outcome.

“Personally, I don’t think it will go any further than just a public hearing unless both sides are willing to make some compromises.”

Voters in Idaho have weighed in before on an issue important to the LGBT community: same-sex marriage. Idaho passed an amendment to the State Constitution in 2006 defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but it took a Federal appeals court to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage.

In his State of the State address, Idaho Governor “Butch” Otter demonstrated the challenge lying ahead for the LGBT community in Idaho.

“It is incumbent upon those of us sworn to uphold and defend our Constitution and to do so based on its content now – not on changing societal views since it was enacted or how any of us would write it today. Therefore, I will continue to do all I can to uphold my oath and defend our Idaho Constitution.”

Mormon Church Announces Support for Protections of Gays and Lesbians

Even as Idaho lawmakers heard emotional public comment about the Add the Words amendment, the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (LDS) convened a press conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. They announced their support of measures that protect the rights of gays and lesbians – like those proposed in Idaho. However, the LDS church stated that it wanted the same level of protection for religious people.

They also pointed out that the LDS church was not reversing course on its stance that homosexuality is a reversible condition.

Idaho has the second-highest percentage of Mormons (after Utah) with 24 percent of Idaho’s population belonging to the LDS church.

Regarding the LDS announcement, Utah State Senator Jim Dabakis – who is openly gay, a baptized Mormon, and legally wed to a same-sex partner said:

“I am proud that the LDS Church has seen fit to lead the way in non-discrimination. Now, let’s roll up our sleeves, get to work and pass a statewide nondiscrimination bill.”

Idaho Workplace Postings

If the amendment passes, the State of Idaho would update its Idaho Law Prohibits Discrimination posting, which is required for employers in Idaho to display. GovDocs provides all postings required for Idaho workplaces as part of the Idaho Poster Compliance Package. Order now and save 20% with coupon code BLOG20.

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