Target: Thomas Loertscher, Chair of the Idaho House State Affairs Committee
Goal: Officially protect the human rights of non-heterosexual and non-binary Idahoans.
Idaho’s House of Representatives State Affairs Committee recently voted down a bill that would have simply added the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the state’s Human Rights Act, the law that makes discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, and country of origin illegal. As a result, LGBT citizens of Idaho can still be legally discriminated against in housing, employment, and education just for being who they are. Demand that the committee end this shameful streak and let the matter be voted on by the general assembly.
This issue has been brought up in this committee for the past decade, but is never even given the chance to move on to the House floor to be voted on. This year the committee actually allowed public testimony for and against the inclusion—a first—but still ended up voting it down, citing concerns that the four words would pose too much of a risk to the state’s religious community. One committee member, Brent Crane, claimed that the phrase “sexual orientation” was too vague, saying “Definitions do matter, words do matter. If you’re going to add words, we need to know what those definitions are.” Another, Thomas Loertscher, suggested the whole issue was unnecessary, saying “I am calling on people everywhere to get over themselves and to get past it.”
This is the same old bigotry always trotted out to justify discrimination against this community. Nineteen states already have gender identity and sexual orientation human rights protections, and it is past time that Idahoans let theirs come to fruition. Demand that the committee approve this proposal and send it to the House floor for a vote by signing the petition below.
Dear Chair Loertscher,
I am writing you today regarding your State Affairs Committee vote to not move the “Add the Words” bill on to the House floor for a general vote in favor or against. Your decision directly harms LGBT citizens in your state and the 13 of you that cast the fateful votes should be ashamed.
Nineteen states already have already “added the four words” to their laws. Indeed, to make up for the shameful inaction of you and your colleagues in the state legislature, 10 of your very own cities have taken it upon themselves to enact their own anti-discrimination laws to protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The demand for legislation of this kind in your state is clearly there, yet you refuse to let that legislation have a chance. A decade is too long for people to have to wait for their government to protect them.
An individual’s personal beliefs, even if they are based in religion, do not give them the right to discriminate against other people. I demand that you bring this bill to a vote again and, this time, let it go to the House floor.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Fry1989 via Wikimedia Commons