The “Add the Words” bill that would ammend the Idaho Human Rights Act to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, failed a vote in the Senate State Affairs Committee in front of a crowd of more than 250 this morning. The bill would have disallowed discrimination on LGBT Idahoans in areas of housing, employment, education and public accommodations.
The issue has been pushed by LGBT groups across the state, who sent sticky notes that read “Add the Words” to the state house to be posted around the building. The large crowd even prompted a room change for the vote.
But as the vote came out, so did an audible gasp from the crowd. Only the committee’s two Democrats, Sens. Michelle Stennett and Edgar Malepeai, voted for the bill, all of the committee’s Republicans voted no and the the measure was rejected. This vote means the measure won’t even get a chance to get a vote in the House and the Senate.
Sen. Malepeai, however, had some strong words during the hearing. From the Spokesman-Review:
“So the question before us today with this legislation is whether or not it is the policy of the state of Idaho to allow discrimination against our gay family members, coworkers and friends.” Malepeai said the senate committee has never considered “this very simple and elegant” version of the bill. “In my opinion it would be profoundly disrespectful not to afford those tens of thousands of families affected by this legislation at least, at least the printing of the bill. Pardon me,” he said, pausing with emotion. “We owe it to those who know and love their gay family members and friends … to allow them to speak about the harm they see being done each day in Idaho without the voice of the state finally saying that discrimination is wrong.”