Via the Boise Statesman Review:
After years of denying a hearing for proposals to ban discrimination against gays, Idaho legislators decided Wednesday to let a committee debate the issue. On a 6-1 vote, the Idaho House’s leadership committee agreed Wednesday to introduce the “Add the Words” bill, a measure to amend the Idaho Human Rights Act to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to ban discrimination on those bases.
The vote clears the way for a full hearing on the measure, which is expected to be scheduled in the House State Affairs Committee the week of Jan. 26. Proponents have sought a hearing on the anti-discrimination bill for the past nine legislative sessions without success.
House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, who presented the bill to the committee and voted for it, said, “It’s merely a question of fairness, freedom and equal treatment for all Idahoans.” House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane, R-Nampa, cast the only dissenting vote. “I campaigned on traditional values and supporting traditional marriage. I promised the voters,” he said afterward. “I think I got 74 percent of the vote in my legislative district based on this being one of my campaign platforms.”
Local outlets are saying that the bill’s hearing reflects a change of heart on the part of the Republican leadership. Last year dozens of local activists were arrested in “Add The Four Words” protests. According to a poll released last week, 67% of Idahoans support the bill.